Safely working with lye
If you are going to make soap at home you are going to have to deal with lye. Lye is also known as sodium hydroxide and is the key ingredient in soap. It is the chemical that converts the oils and fats. Lye is one of the key ingredients in drain openers such as “Drano” or “Liquid Plumber” because of its amazing ability to convert greasy buildup into a soluble substance and clearing a clogged line. Lye should be handled in the same way that drain cleaner, bleach, gasoline or pool chemicals would be handled. If mishandled it can be a dangerous chemical and can cause harm to you and others. If handled correctly these kinds of problems can be avoided. There is no reason why accidents involving lye cannot be completely avoided. As with all dangerous chemicals, keep them away from children.
You can substantially reduce your chances of ever having an accident with lye by remembering four simple things.
1. Never pour water into lye. Always pour lye into the water. (slowly) If you pour water onto lye it can cause a violent reaction.
2. Secondly, be careful not to splash or spill the lye solution. Pre-plan every move you make. Don’t use containers that spill easily. Use stable ones. Stir slowly. Keep other people away while you are working.
3. When handling lye wear goggles, rubber gloves and long sleeves. This will protect you in the event some lye splashes onto you.
4. Keep water near by to wash off any lye that may get on you.
5. Keep lye out of the reach of children.
Please read the following safety information regarding lye.
Warning: Keep children and animals away from lye (sodium hydroxide). Lye is very caustic and can cause serious injury or even death if swallowed and can cause blindness if splashed into the eyes. Always wear long sleeves and be sure to always wear safety goggles. Always keep a large cup of fresh water nearby. If you should splash some lye or raw soap into your eye, IMMEDIATELY pour large amounts of cool water into your eye continuously for 10 minutes, or longer. Visit your nearest hospital emergency room or call 911. If you should splash lye or raw soap onto your skin, rinse immediately with cool water. For more serious skin burns, seek medical care immediately. If lye is accidentally swallowed, do not induce vomiting, call your poison control center or 911 for further instructions, get to emergency fast. It is important to have your lye containers labeled. Again, keep lye away from children and when working with lye keep children away from your work area.