The Truth About Lye
People ask me all the time if my soap contains lye. The short answer is yes. In order for it to be soap, it must contain lye. Trust me, when I first started making soap I tried to find ways around this. To me it seemed like there was nothing natural about sodium hydroxide aka household drain cleaner and I certainly didn't want to put that on my skin! No lie-soap is a result of a chemical reaction between lye, fat and water. Jokes aside, once you combine these ingredients properly and safely, within 24 hours you have soap! If you follow the recipe and proper soapmaking procedures, you won't have any lye at all in your finished soap.
Is making cold process soap dangerous you ask?
Making CP soap is a bit like driving a car, in that you are working with something powerful, and need to be safety-aware in order to avoid injury. It's important to read up on appropriate safety procedures before starting to make soap, and that you work with appropriate safety equipment, including goggles, an apron, gloves, and vinegar to neutralize any spills. You should make sure that you are working uninterrupted, can concentrate on what you are doing, and don't have any pets/children around who might distract you or harm themselves or you. I have forgotten to add oils in batches and certainly burned myself because I wasn't completely present or focused.
When working with lye, you must ALWAYS add the measured lye to the water, rather than pouring water into lye which can result in a lye explosion. It's also important to use a stainless steel pot or a polypropylene container for mixing. Lye will eat through aluminum and metal and will also shatter glass. I see people on YouTube all the time mixing lye in glass and it makes me so nervous!
At the end of the day, making soap doesn't have to be dangerous. Like anything else, do your own research, ask for help from other soap makers, take your time, and start out making really small batches until you get more comfortable. I hope this helps! I'm always available for questions. After all, we are all just students of life and soapmaking.