Monday, April 2, 2012

Lye Safety

The chemistry behind soap making is fascinating! Cold process soap is made by combining oils and caustic soda (aka, lye or sodium hydroxide), which produces glycerine, which is the cleaning agent found in soap. Sounds fairly simple, right?

Well, lye can be a dangerous chemical if handled the wrong way. Once mixed with water, lye can cause severe burns, even peel paint off of wood! When working with lye, always make sure to wear long sleeved shirts, pants, and closed toe shoes. You will also need the following safety equipment:
  • thick gloves
  • eye protection (glasses alone dont cut it!)
  • optional: face mask or other respiratory protection

When making soap, you will need to mix lye and water together before adding it to your oils. There are a few rules to remember:
  1. ALWAYS wear your safety gear! 
  2. Use #5 plastic containers to mix your lye and water in. NEVER use glass! Not even Pyrex!
  3. Never use wooden utensils to stir your mix with. The best ones I have found are silicone spatulas.
  4. ALWAYS pour your LYE into the WATER! Lye --> Water! If you mix this one up, you could have a lye volcano on your hands... not cool!
Lye is a dangerous chemical and should be respected and treated with care. Please always take care to avoid burns. If you happen to be burned by lye, run the affected area under cold running water for at least 15 minutes. You can also use vinegar to wash away the lye (and neutralize it).

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of Fight Club... :) you get a point in my book!