I assume that, since you are reading this page, you already know why you should be making your own soap, as well as the benefits of homemade soap and are ready to start making your own. But before you do, there are a couple of important things you should know:
Soap making is a lot of fun, but it can be dangerous specially when working with lye. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it’s important to follow a few safety guidelines:
- Always store lye in air-tight containers. Label the containers appropriately. A label with “DANGER! – Sodium Hydroxide” and a skull and crossbones or a big red X in a circle is not overkill
- Keep containers out fo reach of children and pets
- When working with lye, you’ll need to wear safety goggles, rubber gloves, a long sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes
- It’s a good idea to wear a disposable face mask while working with lye
- When mixing your lye-water solution, remember to ALWAYS ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER, and not the other way around. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If you add the water to the lye, the chemical reaction could cause some of the mixture to spill on you!
- Add the lye slowly while stirring the liquid gently. It will get quite hot, so be sure to always start out with cool water, never warm or hot water.
- Prepare the lye and water solution in a well ventilated area. If I use the kitchen sink, I make sure that the stove vent is on and that the window above the sink is open. I actually prefer to mix it outside if it isn’t windy and the air temps are comfortable. I have an outdoor sink near my potting table that works well for this.
- If you do get some of the lye solution on your skin, rinse well with lots of cool water, then spray some vinegar on your skin. I keep a spray bottle handy for just such emergencies
Soap Making Checklist
In an effort to assist beginner soap-makers with the basics, and as a reminder to the more experienced, here’s a list of soap-making basics:
- Wear protective gear & clothing – rubber gloves, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, & shoes.
- Run every formula through a lye calculator before using it.
- Pots: Use stainless steel pots. Enamel is ok so long as there are NO chips. No glass – heat from lye/water solution can cause glass to shatter.
- Utensils: Use stainless steel. No wood utensils as lye causes wood to splinter over time. Use plastics with caution as some will melt.
- Use a stainless steel immersion/stick blender to mix lye solution into oils.
- Use a digital scale that measures at least to 10th’s of an ounce & one that measures ounces & grams.
- Measure by weight, not volume.
- Don’t substitute oils without using a lye calculator to re-calculate the lye amount.
- Keep a journal or book of formulas, & take notes of every batch.
- SAP – is the number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide required to saponify 1 gram of fat. Every oil & butter has a SAP value. (Ounces of an Oil multiplied by SAP Value = Ounces of Lye Needed to saponify that oil.Example:
3 oz Olive Oil x .135 (NaOH SAP value for Olive Oil) = 4.335 Ounces of Lye required to saponify the Olive Oil with 0% Super Fat.
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