Making soap is a great opportunity to get creative.
At The Naked Chemist I am all about sharing the love, and hopefully this article on homemade soap, will get you started.
Many of us delight in that squeaky clean feel that soap gives us, and its fair to say, that soap feels fairly harmless when we use it on our skin.
However it is important to note, that soap is highly corrosive when it is going through the chemical process.
The components have to go through some very active caustic stages, before the soap becomes gentle enough to use.
Below are some of my recommendations, on the safety equipment to use and materials to avoid, when making soap.
- Wear protective clothing including gloves and goggles
- Avoid using cast iron pots as these will discolour your soap
- Plastic becomes very weak and inflexible and wood can become soft and splintered and is difficult to clean. Ideally you want to use rubber or silicone spatulas, which will last longer
- Cold process soap making, only loses its caustic properties after weeks of curing. For this reason your soap making supplies must be able to hold varying concentrations of lye. Do not use anything made of aluminium, iron, tin or teflon, because lye eats through these materials
- When making soap, lye can give you a nasty burn if you are not careful, which is why you have to follow safe practices when handling it. Ensure you store your sodium hydroxide in a clearly marked, air tight container, with poison written on it
- When mixing lye, try to do it outside and always wear a dust mask
- Always add your lye to the water, never the other way around as it can bubble and splash causing a burn.
- Keep some vinegar handy, this will help to neutralize the lye if you accidentally spill it on yourself
- Before you start making soap, mix with a blender and always make sure the stick blender is well immersed in the lye, otherwise it could splash up
- After using lye, wipe the area and the bucket with paper towels and then put this in a separate dustbin liner, never put it directly into the bin you never know who might come into contact with it
Making soap, does mean that you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to hygiene, so try to keep everything free from contamination.