3 questions.... And thank you

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ReddWing

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I have skimmed over some 22 pages of post and I did use the search bar-though I'm sure the "Elders" here will tell me I should've looked harder.....
Let's see #1 what is your opinion of this pitcher for lye ? It is polyperlene #5-as it should be. The lid has clamps ! And a dispensing area cut out and it has a "mixer" built-in the lid-its a Dr. Brown's Formula Mixing Pitcher-after all the reading and videos, I think is a safe as possible pitcher-but I've yet to actually make soap yet-but I do make great crèmes, bath bombs, salts, soaks, make-ups, lip balms, deodorants, ok candles and pretty m&p soaps. Also has anyone used CORNINGWEAR dishes/bowls ? And results ? I'm curious because its on the outside of space shuttles and supposedly able to handle 1000's of degrees of heat on one side while the other side is -100's cold...

#2 I would like to know about the acrylic molds vs paper lined wood vs silicon mold lined wood vs silicon vs others I've not heard of-price, ease of use, release, clean-up, Ect please- I've only 2 small guest sized silicon lined wooden molds...so far for loaves.

#3 I feel like I've gone over board on my protection gear (Personal Protective Equipment or PPE is the Army's abbreviation for it.)....but I've worked some nasty areas...so I've a chemical "bunny suit" that covers everything except hands and a circle around the face - in the pix they are wearing face mask's I'm not sure if their shoes are in or out-my shoes go inside of mine, a heavy duty plastic-y apron, the standard gloves, heavy duty-yet feel able over gloves, paper nose-mouth mask's, an inexpensive respirator (my lungs got burnt by gas overseas while in Army-and as l like breathing without carting an O2 tank around-it's a MUST for me) and a full face shield. I believe the total was about $85.00 - not too bad when you think of what your saving-sight, lungs, skin, clothes, and will be usable for about a 10 years and more comfy than what I wore daily in the Army.
My mom who grew up making soap, thinks I need more PPE yet...she's overly concerned about my eyes and lungs-any suggestion's as to what to say to put her more at ease & get my off back side (she's 85 and cranky!)

Thank you

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Susie

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You do not need the stirring pitcher. You just need a #5 in the little triangle on the bottom.

Never, ever use Pyrex or Corningware to mix in. They develop scratches that can later lead to shattering.

You do not need a bunny suit. You need safety goggles or the medical face shield masks that provide protection for the eyes. Then you need gloves-I use the Nitrile ones I buy at Walmart in the Bandaid aisle. Then I use a fluid resistant long sleeved jacket-the kind that are sold by uniform catalogs for medical folks. But any long sleeves will do. Shoes with closed toes are nice also to protect your toes in case of splatters/dropped stuff.

Molds-don't get overly obsessed. If you can't bend the sides of the mold, you need to buy freezer paper to line the mold with. My first molds were the Rubbermaid drawer dividers from the Dollar Tree. The blue ones over by the silverware. Other than that, stay away from anything metal. You can use silicone bread molds, silicone soap molds, wooden boxes that you line, almost anything except aluminum or other metals.
 
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dibbles

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Hi ReddWing. I'll answer what I can of your questions. The pitcher should work fine, although I don't know about the mixer. It doesn't take long to stir the lye until it is dissolved, and the pitcher is clear, so you should be able to see if that works. I use a stainless frothing pitcher. I haven't used corningware. I use plastic, or if for some reason I'm doing a big batch (big for me that is) I have a stainless pot and melt the hard oils on the stove. My normal batch size is 2.5-3 lbs. Corningware will be heavier.

As to the molds, I use a silicone lined wood mold and I love it. It is easy to unmold and clean. Mine are from Nurture Soap Supplies. I also have the Crafters Choice silicone loaf mold and, while it is fine, it is harder to unmold. At least that is my experience. I have rarely used it since I got the wood. I think a wood mold that you line with freezer paper would be a good option too, I just don't want to do it.

It sounds to me like you are pretty well covered as far as the PPE goes. As long as you can move, whatever you are comfortable with you should wear. After you get a few batches under your belt, you might feel ok with less - one pair of gloves for example. I think eye protection and gloves are 'musts' though, and in your case it seems a respirator is important to you. Personally, what I wear is a respirator mask while I mix the lye, and goggles, gloves, and an assortment of old tee shirts, jeans and slippers that I don't care if oils or soap batter gets on. I also usually wear a long sleeved smock which closes in the front with snaps so it is easy to get off should I need to.

As to the mom issue - good luck. If she tells you she wants you to cover more, maybe ask her what that would be.
 

shunt2011

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^^^ What the others have said is good advice. I use plastic buckets or the plastic measuring bowls from the dollar store to melt/mix my batter. I also use the molds from Nurture Soap Supplies. Wood lined with silicone. Silicone is the easiest to unmold in my experience.
 

IrishLass

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Welcome, ReddWing!

The pitcher in your picture looks pretty cool. :) As long as the stirring insert is also made of PP #5, I'd have no qualms about using it. It looks like it will provide a way for you to mix the lye solution without chance of it spilling, or too much of the fumes leaking out. For what it's worth, I myself just use a PP #5 Rubbermaid pitcher and a stainless steel slotted spoon. When done dissolving the lye, I cover it and let it cool down.

As Susie said- stay away from using glass, corningware, etc... They may be heat-safe, which is good, but they are vulnerable to being etched by highly alkaline solutions, such as lye solutions. Basically, the lye solution gradually weakens the glass by etching until the day it can't take it anymore and it breaks. Since it's hard to say when the breaking point will occur, we encourage folks to just steer clear of it and use safer materials such as PP #5 or stainless steel.

Keep your lye away from anything aluminum, too. Not compatible at all.

As for molds, collapsible wood molds are my absolute favorite, but I abandoned using freezer paper for them as liners years ago. Instead, I line mine with heat-resistant mylar (cut to fit), which lasts forever. You can find it at craft stores down the quilting aisle. The mylar liners I cut out for my molds are about 8 years old now, and holding up great. I like to use those Wilton decorative silicone fondant mats as liners, too, also found at the craft store (in the cake decorating aisle). I cut those to fit my collapsible wood molds as well, and they are holding up great (well over 3 years and counting). As for my wood collapsible molds themselves, they were definitely worth every penny I spent on them. They have held up great over the years (10 years and counting).

As for protection, these 3 things are a 'must' for me:

1) Eye goggles
2) Protective gloves (I use either disposable nitrile or disposable latex)
3) Some kind of nose/mouth protection when mixing the lye solution to protect my lungs from the fumes. For me, this protection consists of three thick, tightly-woven, 3-ply cotton diapers stacked on top of each other and folded up over onto themselves in 3rds letter-style, then in 3rds the other way. This I hold over my mouth and nose when mixing my lye solution (out in my well-ventilated garage). Once the solution is cool/has no fumes, it is safe to breathe around it without a mask.
4) An apron to protect the front of my clothes.

I don't wear any other protection other than the above. I used to wear long sleeves, but unless they are waterproof sleeves such as the sleeves Susie has, I've found them to be more trouble than they are worth. If you spill lye solution or raw batter on them, the solution or batter will seep through the sleeves and get onto your skin, and then the only alternative one has is to stop what they are doing, take off the gloves, take off the apron, then take off the shirt and wash the affected skin under running water.......then go find a new shirt to put on, then put the apron back on and the gloves, etc... Been there done that twice, never doing it again. It's much easier and quicker to just rinse my bare arm off. I soap in my kitchen sink, by the way, and the faucet is just mere inches away.


IrishLass :)
 

navigator9

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Here's my two cents. The pitcher, although it should work, looks kind of complicated. I use an old stainless steel saucepan, and a stainless spoon to stir, I already had both. I hold my breath while stirring the lye into the water, then walk away and leave it for about ten minutes or so, so the fumes can dissipate. I have asthma, and haven't had any issues, using this method. The bunny suit is OK, but not necessary. I wear gloves and eye protection. Especially eye protection! Soapmaking really doesn't need to be complicated.

My first mold was an empty milk carton. Free, easy to use, tear away to remove the soap. After that, I built my own wooden mold and lined it with freezer paper until I got tired of folding freezer paper. That didn't take long! Then I bought a wooden mold with a silicone liner, which was pretty expensive at the time. Prices have come down now, and I like the molds from Nurture Soaps, and I build my own wooden box to make it even more affordable. For me, silicone is the way to go. I love the ease of unmolding, and the smoothness of the sides. I haven't used the HDPE molds, so I can't comment on those, but I love my silicone molds so much that I haven't been tempted to try anything else.

Ask your "cranky" mom what kind of PPE she used to use when making soap. I have an idea it was probably a lot less than she is recommending for you. :-D
 
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