How to Make Lye Soap

When it comes to homemade soap, people have been making lye soap for hundreds of years.  Whether they use the hot process or the cold process, lye soap is a staple product for soap makers.  When lye is combined with a fat or oil and heated (the hot process) it goes through a chemical reaction called saponification.  The heating process speeds up this chemical reaction which produces glycerin as a byproduct.  The cold process, which takes longer than the hot process, lets the lye and other ingredients sit for more than 18 hours while the chemical reaction occurs.

While lye is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in ash, most people prefer to purchase their lye already prepared.  You used to be able to obtain lye from your local store but due to its harmful qualities, most stores have pulled it from their shelves.  Lye is still be obtained online, however, and you can readily find soap suppliers online to sell you lye in whatever quantity you want.

How to Make Lye Soap Safely

When learning how to make lye soap you need to be extremely cautious.  Lye is a very harmful substance before it goes through the saponifcation process and, if it were to get on your skin or eyes, can easily burn you severely.  Should you spill some lye on your skin you can put vinegar or lots and lots of water on the affected area to slow down the burn.  So, when you are making lye soap be sure to have gloves, something to protect your eyes and a working surface that is protected as well.  It is recommended to use products that are glass, enamel, plastic or wooden to mix the water with the lye as it will eat through or damage almost anything else.  Also, make sure your working surface is well separated or protected from surfaces where you prepare and consume food.  If you buy a large quantity of lye and you will not use it all at once, keep the remainder well labeled and out of reach of children or pets as it can be very harmful to them.

The first steps to making lye soap are to measure the lye and then add water.  Lye is commonly sold in brick form, which makes it easy to measure.  When making lye soap, however, it is important to remember that you always add the water to the lye.  Water and lye have an interesting chemical relationship and if you were to pour the lye into the water, the lye might explode getting the chemical on your skin and whatever else is around.  If you add the water to the lye, the lye does not explode but, rather, heats up the water – sometimes getting as hot as 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  For more in depth instructions, check out this page on how to make lye soap through the cold process.

While there are a lot of cautions when it comes to soap making, learning how to make lye soap is still be a very enjoyable hobby.  People have been making lye soap for generations and, with the variety of colors and designs available to customize the soap, it has become a luxurious handcrafted product found in gift stores and bath stores alike.