Making soap from scratch at home involves handling sodium hydroxide (lye), a dangerous corrosive chemical substance, that may cause chemical burns. There are safety precautions in soap making to take into account. Follow them and your soap making experience will be a safe one, with only fun and pleasure to enjoy.
Please, read the text below and watch this video:
I can safely say from almost two years of soapmaking experience that if you follow these precautions strictly, you will never have a problem with lye.
Safety Precautions in Soap Making
- Lye or caustic soda is an alkaline chemical that can cause chemical burns on any exposed part of the human body. Its reaction with water also generates chemical vapors that must not be breathed
- Use always protective goggles, protective gloves and a mask.
- Wear clothing and shoes that completely cover the skin. They can be normal clothes, and I never had a problem with ruined or stained clothing after soapmaking, but it would be wise not to use your favorite blouse or shoes.
- If a little bit of soap or lye involuntarily reaches a portion of the skin, wash the affected area immediately in abundant cold water. It is said in some websites that vinegar neutralizes caustic soda. While that is true, do NOT attempt to use vinegar instead of running water, as it takes a lot of vinegar, and time, to neutralize lye. Running water is much faster, and might prevent your skin to get burned as it washes the lye away. You can add some vinegar afterwards, if you feel that will help.
- Mix the water with lye in a ventilated place, preferably near an open window or in the outdoors. Always use your mask.
- Always pour the lye (granules) into the water and NEVER the opposite, as it can cause the lye to erupt. NEVER use hot water – the volcano effect will be even worse.
- There is lye in the soap batter during the saponification process until it is quite advanced. Handle soap batter always with gloves, even in solid state, for at least 48 hours
- Keep pets and children out of reach of utensils and soap batter during soap production
- Do not use the same utensils and equipment in soap making for food. Lye may not be completely eliminated when washing and… it goes without saying that it is not recommended to eat lye…
- Never use utensils in aluminum or any type of plastic other than silicone, as they can react with lye and contaminate/spoil the soap.
Safety precautions are always boring to read. However, making soap from scratch at home involves handling sodium hydroxide (lye) which can be scary – and dangerous without these precautions.
Follow these safety recommendations, and you will be able to manufacture soap at home without any problem.
Always wear gloves, goggles and a mask if you don’t have a well-ventilated environment and wear clothing that completely covers your skin.
When mixing water and lye, do not breathe vapors directly. Always pour the lye into the water.
Do not use aluminum utensils. Do not use soap making utensils in food preparation.
Keep animals and children out of the area where the soap is made.
While this is far from being the fun part of soapmaking, it’s too important to overlook. Safety precautions are necessary to make soapmaking an enjoyable experience, and not a disaster ending up in the hospital.
Always have them in mind and soapmaking will always be relaxing, fun and rewarding!
Hope you found this article useful! If you have a question or a suggestion to make, please, leave a comment below.