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Making Lye Soap -What is it ? Why you must take heed ! Precautions and suitable equipment to use.
Making Lye soap
Lye Soap - What is it ? What's all the fuss about ?
Making Lye soap.
Lye is Sodium Hydroxide = synonyms are caustic soda, sodium hydrate,soda lye, soda ash, ascarite.
It is extremely poisonous !
It is highly corrosive !
Sodium hydroxide can be fatal if consumed !
Sodium Hydroxide solution is exothermic, which means that when lye comes into contact with moisture/water it reacts and produces heat - this heat is capable of igniting flammable substances or causing burns - it burns organic tissue - fast !
If sodium hydroxide comes into contact with the skin it will burn it, it will cause blindness if it gets into eyes......Take good care !
Sodium hydroxide is very toxic, it is regarded as hazardous material, if not treated with respect it can be incredibly harmful and dangerous - when used correctly it culminates in fantastic handmade soap :)
Making Lye soap.
So, before using sodium hydroxide, clear your work area of any potential problems, small children and associated toys - sneaky bits of lego or small cars underfoot can prove hazardous ........I speak from experience, as can unruly pets or overly inquisitive bystanders !
Keep all your soap making equipment separate from all your other culinary equipment,packed away when not being used for soap making.
Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated - open the window wide - the fumes are noxious !
Ensure you are wearing protection for your skin, eyes and mouth that means goggles/glasses, rubber gloves and a long sleeved shirt, a face mask is a good idea... or standing well back and not inhaling the fumes, do not inhale the fumes as this can cause severe irritation of the respiratory tract !
If sodium hydroxide comes into contact with the skin - neutralize the area immediately with vinegar or lemon juice, which will inhibit the corrosive action of the sodium hydroxide, then rinse under running water for at least 5 minutes, if the skin is irritated or burnt severely, put cling film over the affected area to keep protected and clean and seek medical assistance.
If sodium hydroxide gets into the eyes, rinse with water and go immediately to the emergency room.
If sodium hydroxide is consumed or the fumes inhaled...DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING GO IMMEDIATELY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM....this is LIFE THREATENING !
Measure all of your ingredients out before you begin making your homemade soap, very, very precisely !
For soap making I use a glass pyrex jug to mix my sodium hydroxide solution in, a large stainless steel cooking pot and a silicone rubber spatula for mixing.
Sodium hydroxide reacts with some materials sensationally ...in a very bad way !
NEVER EVER use a container made of galvanised zinc, aluminium, magnesium, chromium, copper, tin ,brass or bronze, it produces an explosive situation, as contact with any of the afore mentioned metals and lye produces hydrogen gas !
Teflon coated pans should also not be used.
Continuing on the hazardous gas theme, also avoid contact between sugar and sodium hydroxide, as this combination produces lethal carbon monoxide.
If sodium hydroxide is spilt upon any surface, neutralize with vinegar and then wash down with soapy water, then rinse down with clear water, discard any dishcloths or tissues into a bin outside.
Making Lye soap. The Mixing of Sodium Hydroxide.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS sprinkle the sodium hydroxide into the water, NEVER the other way around........because it will spit and hiss and blow up !
When the sodium hydroxide has been mixed with the oil, the equipment can be washed down with hot soapy water.....continue to wear your gloves !
If at any point sodium hydroxide is splashed onto the skin - take the appropriate first aid steps and then seek medical assistance.
Storage of Sodium Hydroxide.
Sodium Hydroxide is hygroscopic - which means it absorbs moisture from the air - it is a deliquescent salt - which means it will dissolve or melt when exposed to the open air, absorbing any moisture thus making it dangerous and volatile.
Sodium Hydroxide must be stored in an airtight re-sealable plastic container. The container must be labelled appropriately, stored in a safe place, away from children, pets, vermin, heat and moisture, metals and acids, a cool, dry well ventilated room, with a lock on it is perfect.
All of the above sounds pretty scary but as with most things,if you have a little common sense, some organisation ,have given yourself time to make soap in an unhurried and unstressful manner it will result in a wonderful experience and a fabulous batch of homemade lye soap :) Enjoy !
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