How to Use Lye Safely
Safety, and again, remember I said rule number one was safety, right? Sodium Hydroxide Lye is available in a variety of forms you can get it in flakes, you can get it in pellets, you can get it in powder. I always use flakes. They take longer to dissolve but they are more safe to use than pellets and powder. Powder can go airborne on you. We don't want something that has such a high pH that is caustic to go airborne. Pellets can get static cling and when you open up your child safety seal jar of Sodium Hydroxide they will literally go bouncing out. Which is no fun. That said, they do dissolve faster and they are easier to use, but in this case I am all about safety first, so I always use flakes. When lye is introduced to a liquid like distilled water, the liquid dissolves the lye and it creates a lye solution that's how we're getting our lye to get put with our oils, right? This is the water acts as the carrier or if you're going with the more advanced technique, the tea or the beer ac...
ts as the carrier. When you mix the water and the lye, that creates an exothermic reaction. That means that there is a dramatic temperature change up to 200 degrees temperature change in one minute or less. When that happens, it creates a little bit of steam, creates a little bit of fumes. You don't want to inhale the fumes. So it's very important when you're soaping, you're soaping in a very well ventilated area. Some people, some soap makers choose to use a full face mask or a breathing, like a painter's mask little mask so that they don't breathe in any of the fumes because some people really find it irritating. I just soap in a well ventilated area with no children and pets around. You need 90 minutes from start to finish for your project. And remember, those pictures of Trace? Do you remember how good that stuff looked? Didn't it look like cake batter? Melted milkshakes? Frosting? A four-year-old, a six-year-old stick their finger in, on their tongue, bleh. No good. So when you're soaping with cold process soap no children, no pets around, right? Pets can so easily knock things over, or just jump in your fresh soap. Lye is a caustic chemical, it shouldn't come into contact with you skin. Especially your eyes. So I will be wearing gloves. When I soap it doesn't matter if it's very very hot or not, I'm wearing my closed-toe shoes, long pants, and long sleeves and I always use goggles. So the goggles are really important to protect your eyes. And the reason that we want to protect our eyes is because unlike our skin which has a nice epithelial layer that kinda protects stuff from going in, your eyes don't have anything like that, right? And we only get one set of eyes. So I always wear goggles whenever I'm working with soap and whenever I'm cleaning my soap. So just because you're all done and you've poured the soap into the mold doesn't mean you get to be complacent. You still have to clean your stuff. So make sure you're wearing your safety stuff afterwards. And I know this sounds really scary, but just remember when you first learned to drive a car that seemed really scary too and so you'll get there. And also, remember you guys, they still sell lye in the stores, on the shelves, in the cleaning section, right? Like, they're still selling lye everywhere. So if you're thinking to yourself, oh well I know where I can buy lye, I can buy it in the hardware section. It's under the brand name Drano, right? So most drain cleaners that use sodium hydroxide, right? Cause sodium hydroxide is used as a drain cleaner cause the reason that it works as a drain cleaner is that it binds with the fats in the drain, turns them into soap and allows it to wash down the drain. That's how it works. Most drain cleaners in the store, usually have 3% aluminum flakes in there. We can't use that for soap. You can not use anything that's not a pure sodium hydroxide. So keep that in mind. Now, just a scary thing, if you're making soap and you're like, oh I feel a tingling, I feel an itching, oh my goodness my skin is getting red, I clearly came into contact with raw soap or lye. What do you do? You wash it under the sink for 15 minutes, you put some lotion on it, it goes away. If you happen to walk around for four hours and not notice the burning and the tingling, which you guys you will notice burning and tingling right away if you get raw lye on your hands or if you get raw soap on your hands, you'll notice it right away. What you'll see is a red patch, and usually, your skin, the lye starts eating your skin. That's what pH's of 14 do. If it comes into contact with your eyes, so if you're wearing glasses and you just decide you're going to shortcut the safety, and you're like, I'm just going to keep wearing my glasses, right? This is close enough. And it gets underneath. By the way, glasses are not appropriate eye safety, in case that wasn't clear with my comments. You do need to flush your eye with 15 minutes worth of cold water. And then if you continue to have issues, definitely get yourself to an eye doctor quickly. Anything, if you're feeling the effects of breathing in some of the lye fumes when you've been mixing, just get yourself to another area that the lye fumes are away from. And I'm gonna mix the lye in here, like it's not that stressful, I just really want to impress on you the importance of safety when you are making soap. And like riding a bike, you'll get it, you'll figure it out. The first few times might be a little intimidating, but as long as you're prepared, you have everything laid out that'll be great and you'll be making soap like a pro.