Soap Making Safety Precautions for Cold Process Soapmaking

Before you begin making soap with any process, you should review and understand any safety precautions.  Almost anyone can make soap, but with the cold process method… because it involves caustic chemicals… it is especially important to consider safety. Here are some extremely important safety tips. Ensure that you have covered your workspace and the floor with newspapers. This will be invaluable should you spill any lye mixture or the liquefied soap. Gather all of the necessary soap making equipment in that stopping to find something in the middle of the process may jeopardize your soap. More importantly, it may also cause you to rush or to make do without something not meant for soap making, thus creating opportunities for accidents and poor soap quality.
Lye is an extremely corrosive and dangerous substance and so special precautions and preparations are necessary for working with it! Most importantly – NEVER add water to lye. Always add the lye to the water to ensure that the solution is adequately diluted!

Selection of Equipment

Ensure that your mixers will not disintegrate when they encounter lye. Again, wooden spoons are acceptable choices for stirring, but they will begin to deteriorate after multiple contacts with lye. Hard rubber, silicone, or stainless steel would also be good choices. Select dishwasher safe pitchers to hold the lye. Due to the high temperatures lye processing can reach, you want to be sure that your container is not going to disintegrate in your hands. One way to test the containers to ensure suitability is to fill them with boiling water and let them sit for a minute. You would then try to pick the container up over the sink to see if it will retain its original form. You do not want a container that softens or bends. Additionally, you want handles that allow you to move the full container, again without bending.

Hardening Lye

Start by removing jewelry before handling lye in that it will eat away at metals, posing a risk to the jewelry. Read and follow instructions and safety warnings on the container of lye carefully to help cut down on preventable accidents and avoid any surprises. Be sure to wear protective safety gear when handling lye, which would include protective gloves and safety glasses, especially when handling the finished soap since lye continues to be corrosive until the soap is set. If the lye or the lye solution comes into direct contact with your eyes or skin, flush the area with cold water immediately. Continue flushing for several minutes to ensure the lye is rinsed off. However, if you feel a burning sensation, consult a medical professional right away. Another consideration when working with lye is that the fumes are harmful to your lungs. Take care not to breathe in the fumes from the lye granules or the lye mixture. When pouring the lye mixture, take your time, being careful not to splash the liquid onto yourself or your workstation, as splashing yourself will burn. When lye is splashed on the workspace, it can also create hazards. Additionally, you will be forced to start the soap making process all over again. If your lye container has a lid, make sure the lid is on securely before you tip the container to pour the solution. If the lid is not secure, you risk it coming off accompanied by a flood of lye mixture as well as the lid and you will almost certainly be burned. Use two hands when moving your container of lye. Place one hand on the handle and the other on the bottom of the container. This will ensure that should the handle break or your hand slip, you do not lose the lye. By taking this precaution, you reduce the possibility of accidental burns as well as the loss of the lye mixture thus necessitating starting the soap making again. Other areas to be concerned about are:
  • Household safety when having lye in the house
  • Heating of fats and oils
  • Keeping your equipment in good working order
  • Thoroughly understanding your recipe
  • Workspace area issues
Perhaps the best place to understand all the safety issues is our own (sorry for the plug) Soap Making Made Simple! multi-media guide. It covers the safety issues in more detail and can be a great help to you. And, remember… If all this safety stuff has you a bit scared, you can always use the melt and pour process where the safety issues are much easier to deal with. Click here for info on the melt and pour process.  
Subscribe FREE now and we'll notify you when we post new content. Don't miss a great new tip or a wonderful recipe. You can unsubscribe with one click at any time.