One of the most important things to ALWAYS remember is that lye is a very dangerous and caustic chemical. It can cause blindness, untold suffering and even death with only a few seconds of negligence.
That said, with the proper precautions, making your own soap can be an economical and fun way to take care of yours and your family’s personal and home cleaning needs. (not to mention, it is a wonderful creative process and great hobby)
Basic Soapmaking Safety Equipment
Some people prefer not to wear gloves or shoes during various stages in the process because lye or raw soap can get underneath and take longer to get out. I personally find them a bit clumsy to work with which presents a danger in itself in itself so I wear them to mix and pour the soap and for clean up, but meausure and stir the lye solution without them. Raw soap is also dangerous and burns your skin, especially if you have any nicks or cuts on your hands (you'll probably get a good education on *expressiveness* if your within earshot of a soaper with raw soap in an open cut on their hand, not that I would know anything about that )
- Gloves, Goggles, Vinegar, Saline Solution
If you are handier with the gloves and prefer to wear them at all times, by all means do so! (I've never tried it, but I wonder if a thick elastic around the cuffs would keep stray *stuff* from venturing down the opening.)
Vinegar neutralizes lye so it is handy to have in arms reach. I haven’t
had a clear answer on what to do if you get it in your eyes, but saline
solution was mentioned. I would NOT recommend splashing your eyes with vinegar!!
The best solution is to ALWAYS wear your goggles anytime you’re near your lye solution or raw soap. (raw soap is soap before it has had a chance to undergo the saponification process)
Store and Handle Lye Wisely
ALWAYS store your lye where it is not accessible to others, I keep mine on a high shelf and bagged/knotted with large writing on it that says *LYE... DANGER!!!!* If you have small children (or curious children, that would account for all of them!)
This is of utmost importance. Even the dust inhaled can cause serious lung damage. (and don't ask me why a child would want to play with lye, you know they are a magnet to anything their not supposed to touch. It will call out to them, eat me, eat me! You could probably put a double decker Baskin and Robbins Super Dee Duper Double Fudge Sundae beside it and they'll go straight for the lye bottle!) Or the older ones will just have to *see* what it feels like to have lye burns over 1/2 of their body :0)
Mixing Your Lye Solution
When mixing the lye and water, toxic fumes are given off for 5 - 10 minutes so good ventilation is a must. I always mix with two fans and I still need to hold my breath. Some do it outside. Never leave the lye solution unattended. The dust will also burn your lungs so I sometimes use a dust mask when measuring and pouring the lye into the water (you must ALWAYS do it in that order - lye into water - or you will get a lye *volcanoe*, and you don’t want that!!) If I don’t use a mask, always hold my breath when measuring the lye. Pour on an area that is easy to clean up as you will often have a few lye pellets bounce out of your container.
Steel is better than plastic for that if you have it. I don’t recommend mixing lye in the kitchen. I use my laundry room.
I always wear my safety goggles and gloves while cleaning up as well. I rinse the things that have lye on them with warm, running water and give them a wipe with a clean cloth. I soak the crock pot, stick blender and what ever else has soap on them in hot water. You can wash them right away using your gloves.
By now you may be wondering who in their right mind would want to make their own soap?
Well, it sounds worse than it is, if proper safety precautions are followed it is a safe and very rewarding hobby with endless benefits.
So don't be afraid to jump in, just remember to be safe :0)
Quick Soapmaking Safety Tip: A good rule to follow is no eating or drinking during the
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