How to neutralize lye
Reaction of lye and vinegar experiment | mass conservation
A little extra oil (superfatting) in bar soaps is beneficial. It protects the soap from too much lye, and the extra oil is good for your skin. In theory, liquid soap is the same as bar soap…except that the extra oil in the soap creates cloudiness and may break, resulting in a white, gooey layer floating on top.
Liquid soap is usually formulated with either a 0% lye discount (superfat) or even a lye excess to achieve the clearest soap possible. To make the soap gentler on your skin, the residual lye must be neutralized. The neutralization process you use will be determined by the soap making method you use.
The Catharine Failor process is used by the majority of people when they first start making liquid soap. The method is flawless, but some soapmakers are perplexed by the fact that all of her recipes contain an abundance of lye that must be neutralized. To neutralize liquid soap made with a Failor recipe, follow these steps:
Summer Bee Meadow has established a reputation as a liquid soap specialist. The main difference is that their recipes are measured with a 0% lye discount rather than a lye surplus. Even if there is no lye excess, neutralization is still needed. To use the Summer Bee Meadow approach to neutralize:
How to make sodium hydroxide (lye) from baking soda
Some soapmakers were talking about how they leaked lye in their workspace a few months ago. They described how they cleaned up the chemical spill by saturating the area with a jug of vinegar (lye is a chemical).
Most soapmakers have never worked as chemists and aren’t even used to handling chemicals before learning to produce cold process or hot process soap. As a result, there is a knowledge gap about the handling of some of the chemicals we use in our manufacturing process.
Sodium hydroxide, or NaOH, is another name for lye. It’s very alkaline, or foundation. Acetic acid is another name for vinegar. Remember the science project in elementary school where you had to make a volcano? Using vinegar to prime the baking soda-primed paper mache cone? Your paper mache volcano has the most amazing foam streaming up and out of it! This is due to the fact that baking soda is a mild foundation, or alkaline. Your vinegar, once again, is a weak acid. However, the self-contained, homemade volcano activity still produces a fairly violent exothermic reaction!
Cleaning cast iron with lye
Have you seen this, soapers? When you’re making soap, do you have vinegar on hand? I did, too, until recently, when I came across an intriguing post on a soap forum and decided to investigate the claim further.
Although vinegar (an acid) can neutralize lye (a base), there are two issues with using vinegar on skin that has come into contact with lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide):
When vinegar and lye are combined, the neutralization reaction is exothermic (it produces heat), much as when lye dissolves in water. As a result, rinsing with vinegar or water to remove lye will generate heat and can cause skin burns.
I imagined adding a splash of vinegar onto the lye and then neutralizing the lye when I read the safety precautions many Soapers were putting out there. In fact, vinegar is primarily made up of water and is a diluted solution of acetic acid. That means you’d have to flush with a lot of vinegar, probably pouring a gallon or more of vinegar on yourself.
Cast iron restore (lye bath)
Lye is a caustic material, so keep that in mind. If it gets into your eyes, it can cause skin burns and even blindness. It can be dangerous if it is not filtered or if it is treated incorrectly. If you decide to use a lye bath to clean cast iron, make sure to read the entire article first and proceed with caution.
A lye bath uses a caustic chemical, sodium hydroxide a/k/a lye, to break down and dissolve hardened greasy build up from cast iron pots and pans, similar to how an aerosol oven cleaner works. When compared to spray oven cleaner, a lye bath can save money because it can be reused several times and clean multiple pans at once. Another advantage is that you can clean parts at your leisure, leaving them in the bath for as little or as long as you like, or even longer.
The formula is one pound of lye crystals per five gallons of water. Always apply the lye to the bath, not the other way around, as this would cause a thermal reaction, causing it to boil over and spill on you. And when correctly mixing and using lye, do use skin and eye protection, as well as protective clothing or clothing that won’t be damaged if some drips on them.