Lye solution is usually used in making soap. While soap in itself is not dangerous, lye solution in its bare form poses some degree of danger if not handled properly. Here are the steps in making a lye solution at home, safely.
1. Remember these safety precautions. Lye is scientifically known as sodium hydroxide. It is a poisonous substance, and it corrodes anything of organic form, such as skin. It also reacts strongly with aluminum. When it is dissolved, it releases heat on its own. It is therefore very important to choose a well-ventilated room when preparing liquid lye solution, because the process will result in fumes that are not safe to inhale.
It is also advisable to wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt, pants, and preferably a closed pair of shoes, just in case the solution spills. Also wear protective goggles and a vapor-resistant face-mask to protect your eyes, mouth and nose from the harmful vapors.
Lye also reacts with sugar, so the utensils to be used should be thoroughly cleaned. Use only non-aluminum utensils such as heat resistant glass or plastic. Remove anything flammable from the area, since the solution can ignite flammable materials.
2. Prepare the supplies needed. You will need the following materials to make liquid lye solution:
- Protective goggles, vapor resistant face mask and rubber gloves
- Weighing scale
- Plastic pitcher with lid
- Large measuring cup (plastic)
- Spoon made of stainless steel or plastic
- Distilled water
3. Measure and mix the ingredients. Depending on how much lye solution you need for your soap making, you need to know how much lye you need. Weigh the appropriate amount on the weighing scale. You need to be accurate in the measurements to ensure the efficacy of your lye solution.
After measuring the lye, measure the water needed using the cup, and then weigh it on the weighing scale (lye recipes usually use water weight rather than volume).
Mix the measured lye and water, keeping it at a distance from your face, as the solution will become hot and will produce fumes. Stir the solution with the stainless or plastic spoon. Using the thermometer, take the temperature of the solution. At this point, the temperature should be around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Store the solution properly. Let the solution cool down. Make sure that the containers are labeled to avoid accidental intake. All the materials that came in contact with the lye and lye solution should be disposed of properly, making sure they do not come in contact with other people or pets, and other utensils used at home.
Use plastic containers that are resealable, and make sure their lids are not made of aluminum, tin, chromium, brass or bronze, since contact with these materials will create hydrogen gas, which poses danger.
Place the lye and lye solution in a cabinet that is far from the reach of children and pets, and label it properly. Keep it in a cool, dry place, since lye easily absorbs water from the atmosphere.