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How To Use Lye Safely?

Yesterday we wrote about how lye is made and wether it can be called as natural ingredient. To read yesterday's post click here. Today we will be talking about how to use this Lye safely.

As mentioned lye in flakes form (the one sold in Soap Lab) are concentrated form (99.5%) and needs to be handled safely as it is in its highest pH (14) and can be corrossive. If not handled properly it can be dangerous! There were few times i had ignored the safety and quite many times my skin got slight burn here and there because i totally ignored the safety.

In tomorrow's post ill be showing ways to dilute sodium hydroxide but for today; lets talk about handling and proper storage. Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide comes in flake form and needs to be diluted with diluents like water or any other liquid first before using. When in contact with liquid; the flakes will react with the liquid and cause it to heat up to almost 100 degrees celcius. Thats very hot! And if it touches the skin; you can imagine how it will burn!

For that reason; you must always wear gloves when handling lye. Even if your hands are dry; you must wear one! We actually dont realize this but most of the times we are sweating. Even when we feel that our hands are dried; its actually sweating. This sweat when touches the sodium hydroxide flakes will heat it up to 100 degrees so if your hand is not protected by gloves; it can burn your hands too! So wear Gloves! What kind of gloves? It doesnt matter as long as it can protect our skin when handling lye. I usually prefer disposable gloves so that i can just throw it away after one time use. But its up to you. You can also get the latex gloves or gardening gloves.

Secondly make sure you wear long sleeves when you are handling lye. Although we are wearing gloves; at times we dont realize that the lye can also get to the arms so wear long sleeve first few times when you are handling lye until you get used to it.

If you are a 'clumsy' person; protect your eyes as well. Get an eye googles from hardware shops and use it everytime you are mixing lye and water.

If you have asthma or pregnant; use face mask when mixing the lye and water as it gives out a lot of fumes when the water and lye mixes.

Place to Mix
Always mix lye and water in open area. Some place airy. I usually mix it outdoor so that i don inhale the fumes. If you must do it indoor, make sure its by a window and its has proper ventilation. On the Fan as fast as possible to remove the fumes.

Handling Lye
When mixing, always add lye to water and not the other way round. There was once i tried to do the opposite and it kind of like gave a small 'burst'. Theoritically its something to do with heat expanding too fast so make sure its always lye to water and not the other way round.

Lye Storage
Keep lye in room temperature; someplace dark and dry. Do not store it anywhere around food as there were cases where people thought it looks like regular salt and used it in their cooking. Lucky thing they realised it fast or..

Using lye in soap
Always do a proper calculation on how much lye to use in soap making. You can calculate the lye amount using this calculator. Never change the oils in recipe before running though the calculator as different amount of lye is needed for different kind of soaps. Make sure the lye is measured according to the calculated amount.

In Tomorrow's Post ill be showing you how to mix lye with water and other liquid so do check it out.

Thank You For Reading;

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