Fumes, Temperatures, Glass/Stainless (No Plastic)

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by AZJen, Jul 21, 2019.

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  1. Jul 21, 2019 #1

    AZJen

    AZJen

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    After a day of research, I wanted to make soap. And then I found an old thread on fumes. I used lye-based drain cleaner a few times years ago and thought it was absolutely awful. I'd hate to make a business or hobby of anything that smells so bad.

    Also, I think not as a renter (I do not want to replace expensive components of someone else's home) with a bird, a cat, and my own health to protect--unless there's a way to prevent the toxicity and corrosion. Someone said ice cubes help prevent fumes. Another said they also help prevent (or slow way down?) etching of glass.

    The only location in my apartment that makes sense to me is a bathroom (for door closed) with the vent on, but someone said that their kitchen vent corroded from the ‘fumes’ so now I’m concerned that there are probably metal fan blades in the wall that could rust or corrode, and there are metal fixtures throughout the bathroom. (Others have said they’ve never seen corrosion on metal near to their mixing station. I suppose it depends on the type of metal, quality of the fixtures, and perhaps how quickly the vapors disperse/dilute.) Additionally, the bathroom may take a while to completely air out. A WWII style vapor filter may protect my lungs, but the bathroom may be unusable for a day? (Some have said just a few minutes of fumes--most noticeable if head placed over the mixing container which they try to never do. If only a few minutes of fumes, I wonder at what starting temperature their ingredients are. Hot mixtures steam for as long as they’re hot, I’ve read.) Also worth noting is that some people can handle really noxious chemical smells in their homes, garages, etc. that I cannot. I don’t paint my nails or wear fake nails, but just as an example, walking into a nail salon for just a few seconds would be enough of a shock to my system to make me leave.

    If I don't start with ice for the lye solution, how hot would the initial solution be? I've heard that some soapers' solutions are reaching 200 degrees (near boiling). Maybe that's because they're starting with melted/heated oils.

    And if I start with ice, how hot should I expect? I have a cat and parakeet that might be affected by even small amount of vapors which is the main reason I'm thinking to use ice cold water or ice itself. If not making the lye solution in a bathroom, perhaps outside would work.

    I've read that distilled water is ideal. I'm not sure of the water used to make bagged ice.

    I have read that etching of glass only occurs if the solution heats up quite a bit (to the 200 or so degrees that many soapers are working with). If I'm starting with ice cubes or ice cold water in a half gallon canning jar, the risk of that may be close to zero? Having not done this even once, I don't know how hot the solution will become if starting with cold water. Others have said that quality stainless is probably the way to go… for the lye solution, immersion blender, bowls, etc.

    I aim to refrigerate my soaps, but fear that I’ll poison my food with vapors and have no money for an extra mini fridge.

    I've read that saponification during the first 1-3 days also produces heat, but I don't know how much to expect with room temp oils and a lye solution produced with ice cubes or with room temperature water. Can anyone give a temperature range?
    For long-term room temperature (80+ degrees this time of year) storage of the solution, I'm not sure if a plastic Ball canning jar lid would create a tight enough seal. The other other option would be a metal canning jar lid.

    Those are my questions for now, but I’ll be away for the day and cannot reply until late.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  2. Jul 21, 2019 #2

    cmzaha

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    You are stressing way too much and as Relle mentioned in a former post maybe you should just go with melt and pour.

    1. As I mentioned to you in a message, you DO NOT use any type of glass to be on the safe side. It does not matter what the temp of the lye is. Etching can occur over time. Kinda wonder why I went to the trouble of messaging you when you apparently would rather believe what you read elsewhere. This forum has very knowledgable soapmakers and our resident chemist. Sorry, that may sound mean but I do not mean for it to. :D

    2. You will not poison food by putting soap in a fridge or freezer although uncovered food could pick up the scent.

    3. DO NOT use any type of metal and DO NOT store lye in glass jars.
    Number 2 and number 5 recycling codes on the bottom of plastic containers are suitable for long term or short term storage. Ball plastic canning containers will work since they are #5's but in my opinion, the lids are not tight enough for safe storage. I prefer jugs with safety caps especially if children are around.
    I did not necessarily answer the questions in the order posted above.
     
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  3. Jul 21, 2019 #3

    lsg

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    If you have a window in your kitchen and a fan, you can soap in there. If nothing else, mix your lye solution outside until the lye is dissolved and then take it into the soaping area. I always use plastic for mixing the lye solution. Glass can shatter. I use room temp. distilled water for my soap. The only time I freeze a liquid is if it contains sugars, such as milk, cream, beer, aloe juice etc. You can check the temp. of the lye solution and oils with a thermometer. 120-130*F is a good temp for both lye solution and oils. Many experts recommend that the temp. of the lye solution and oils be within a 10* range of each other. I put my milk soap in the freezer without worry. If you want the soap to gel, then insulate the mold with towels. If you don't want gel, put it in the freezer. I usually leave the soap in the freezer for 24-48 hours, depending on how much in a hurry I am to unmold. I have still gotten partial gel when putting the soap in a refrigerator. It can take as long as 48 hours for a soap to go completely through the gel phase. I wouldn't recommend storing the soap in an airtight container. Soap needs to cure, on a rack or where air can circulate, for 4 weeks or more. A cardboard shoe box with a lid makes a decent storage container after the soap has cured. Hope this helps. Soaping101 and The Soap Queen are both great sources of info for a novice soaper.
     
  4. Jul 21, 2019 #4

    AZJen

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    Thank you again for your input.

    Please let's have a conversation without using strong language like "Kinda wonder why I went to the trouble of messaging you when you apparently..." to push each other into submission. It is an imperfect world with perfect solutions rarely possible. We all have our own concerns and priorities. You prefer plastic, for example, but I would really rather not--for *health* reasons (health reasons override the durability of the container in my book) after finding the university study mentioned to you privately.

    You said privately that quality stainless should be fine.

    I *was* leaning toward glass. You, however, privately said that etching of the glass can occur even if I use ice for the lye (more slowly if using ice than hot liquid). After receiving your feedback, I am *now* leaning toward stainless steel. But the main question that *remains* is at what speed etching of glass would occur if I use ice. I am wondering if the etching of glass might SO VERY slow (e.g., many years before breakage might occur) with the ice method that I could safely replace my Ball canning jar once every 6 months (using aged ones for beverages instead of soaping).

    I would rather not soap at all than go with Melt and Pour.

    Thank you also for your input.

    Yes, I was thinking to mix the lye outside until dissolved and cool enough to not off-gas/vaporize, then take it into the soaping area.

    After reading a university study about plastics, I don't want to use them for soaping unless I must (e.g., ice cube trays). That is the reason I was considering glass. 'Cmzaha', however, says etching of the glass can occur even if I use ice for the lye (more slowly if using ice than hot liquid). So, unless the etching of glass is SO VERY slow with the ice method that I could safely replace my Ball canning jar once every 6 months, that leaves only quality stainless steel which has been said privately and publicly by others to be an acceptable material for lye solutions.

    Per your feedback, it sounds like if I use ice, I'll need to let the solution return to room temp before mixing with room temp oils. Perhaps a large master batch of lye solution kept at room temperature for several soap batches.

    I was thinking no gel and had read to refrigerate it. But if the freezer works better for preventing partial gel, thank you for the tip on that that, and to give it time to finish.

    I was thinking only to keep the lye solution/dilution in an airtight container, not the soap. But per Cmzaha's feedback, I should not store the solution long-term in either glass or metal. So, I guess no long-term storage of it will be possible for me as I don't want to store it in plastic. (I know Cmzaha said that #2 and #5 plastics are suitable, but a recent university study on plasticizers/softeners/hardeners as they relate to health--not the durability of the container--suggests not.) I, therefore, will have to make it each time I soap instead of making a large master batch.

    I found The Soap Queen but have not yet visited Soaping101.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2019
  5. Jul 21, 2019 #5

    Dahila

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    you are renting, if anything happens you will be responsible. I do not know how it is in States but in Canada you can only register your business in your private home, not semi or townhouse, Some insurances would not insure if they know that you make soap, I am in Canada, it maybe easier in US , anyway try just to do melt and pour.
     
  6. Jul 21, 2019 #6

    AZJen

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    That is a good question before spending any money on this!

    I'd rather not do melt and pour.
     
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  7. Jul 21, 2019 #7

    dibbles

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    Something else to consider re mixing your lye solution in glass. Aside from the etching - which does happen and to my knowledge there is no way to accurately predict when a problem with that will occur - is the issue of accidentally dropping the lye solution. Plastic or stainless doesn't break but glass almost certainly will. Cleaning up a lye spill involving broken glass would make a bad situation so much worse.

    I use a stainless steel frothing pitcher to use my lye. It has a handle and when I have to move it I hold the handle with one hand and place my other hand under the pitcher. I don't masterbatch since I am a hobby soaper and make fairly small batches.

    I really believe that mixing the lye solution is the biggest hurdle for new soap makers. I think everyone is intimidated and nervous about it at first. I know I was. After you have done it a couple of times, you will become more comfortable with it.
     
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  8. Jul 21, 2019 #8

    steffamarie

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    Quality stainless should be fine for soapmaking. Other metals can be dangerous. Glass will etch over time but there is no way to measure how bad the etching has become and you put yourself at great risk if you continue to use it. You would never know when it would be too dangerous to use. Plastic is the option most soapmakers, including myself, choose. What did this study say about it that you read?

    Also I would not use any materials used for soapmaking for food/drink - especially glass.

    As far as the fumes go, I simply mix my solution in a well-ventilated area and lean away to breathe or hold my breath during the initial mixing. Using ice will create less fuming. I leave my (plastic) container aside while it cools and never notice any fumes unless I'm standing right over it. I also masterbatch my solution in a large pitcher and cover it lightly while it cools. The cooling process can take hours, but the steam condenses on the lid and drips back into the pitcher. Then I decant the whole cooled thing into a thick-walled #5 plastic airtight jug with a pour spout for use as needed. That way I don't have to deal with mixing and cooling every time I want to make soap.

    I have a cat and she stays pretty far away from whatever I'm doing. If she gets a whiff of something she doesn't like, she runs away. If your cat is more curious than Kiki, it's probably best to mix your solution outside.

    Mine heats up over the boiling point if I start with room temperature water, but if I use all ice I can keep it under 90ish.

    I also rent and have not noticed any damage or weird things happening after a year of soapmaking.
     
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  9. Jul 21, 2019 #9

    AZJen

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    I now must leave for a long day of work far from home so cannot reply until late tonight.
     
  10. Jul 21, 2019 #10

    Dahila

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    years ago I had scored fantastic 3 quart bowl in Home Scense, Stainless made in Us, so not the chine poor quality one. it has a handle so very easy to carry from my garage to downstairs, I am being extra careful. I got also 1.5q stainless cup but it was made in Chine and as I suspected it rusted almost immediately. When using lye do not safe on good quality stainless cup. It is worth it :) and good luck with a new adventure
     
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  11. Jul 21, 2019 #11

    IrishLass

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    Hi Jennifer- I believe Carolyn (cmzaha) was specifying to not store your lye solution in metal (you had mentioned using a metal canning lid). Certain metals do not play nice with lye, such as aluminum, for example.

    Re: plastics: Certain plastics should never be used with lye, but there are two that are safe: HDPE #2, and PP#5. I mix my lye in a tall Rubbermaid pitcher made of PP #5, and I store my lye solution long term in a (thoroughly washed/rinsed) reclaimed liquid laundry detergent bottle with a tight-fitting screw-top cover all made of HDPE #5. I master-batch my lye and it lasts forever in my reclaimed detergent bottle without harm to the plastic or the lye (for 2 years and counting).

    Re: glass: please, please, please do not use glass, neither for mixing lye solution and especially not for storing lye solution. SMF administration has taken the position that you are playing Russian Roulette when you use glass, because more than enough folks have reported their tempered glass shatter when soaping with it. You might be able to get away with it for 6 months, maybe even longer than that, but then again, maybe only a week or just a mere day (as some have reported happening to them with brand-new tempered glass pitchers)......you just never know when it's going to succumb to whatever stresses have been put upon it, because you don't even know what stresses were put upon it sitting on the shelf at the store before you even bought it, i.e. being banged around, etc....(seemingly benign bumping/banging can also have a negative effect on the integrity of glass).

    For what it's worth, I also do home-canning of food and there have been a few times when I've had a brand-new Ball canning jar break during their first canning session (the bottoms broke right off while in my pot). And I recently had 2 borosilicate lab beakers break on me within the past 2 months. They accidentally slipped out of my slippery/soapy hand while washing in the sink (I use them to make after-shave and lotion in them). They dropped from only a mere 1" to 2" height from my hand to the bottom of the sink- a very minute drop they should have survived (and have before) with flying colors, but this time they didn't.

    Quality stainless steel is fine to soap in. My soaping vessels that I mix my soap batter in are quality stainless steel and they are all still in great shape after 13+ years of soaping in them. I don't know that I'd store my lye solution in them long-term, though, like I do in my #2 plastic, which has proven to be non-reactive for the lengths that I've stored my concentrated lye solution in it. I'm not sure how much leaching or corrosion might or might not take place with stainless steel being in constant contact with concentrated lye solution for over a year or more. That's something I haven't personally tested. Maybe others can chime in on that.

    Re: using ice. I don't ever use ice. I mix my lye into room temp distilled water and although the solution gets quite hot while mixing, it has never, ever reached the boiling point for me yet..........except for that one time I had put honey in the distilled water before I added the lye to it. Yikes! However, adding diluted honey to already prepared and cooled lye solution does not get anywhere near to the boiling point....only to about 160-ish F for me.


    IrishLass :)
     
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  12. Jul 21, 2019 #12

    cmzaha

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    :thumbs: IL is so much more diplomatic than me :D She knows what she is talking about
     
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  13. Jul 22, 2019 #13

    AZJen

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    Thank you all for your responses today! I got home supremely late and have to be up early--with lots of work tomorrow but should have time to reply then.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2019 #14

    AZJen

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    Your big bowl with handle sounds like a great buy!

    YES YES YES, cleaning broken glass with liquid lye everywhere sounds like a pure nightmare. Something to be avoided at all costs. Thank you for giving more information on the *extreme* unpredictability of the etching.

    Thank you greatly for the details of your reply such as temperatures! Under 90ish doesn't sound bad! Yes, I think I'd like to start with ice to minimize the vaporization of lye. (I've read that it happens while hot, not just during the first few minutes, but perhaps that was misinformation.)

    I have read elsewhere, too, that other metals can be dangerous--not ever to be used. It is great to know that I would never know when it would be too dangerous to use. The combination of this information and the possibly of cleaning up liquid lye AND broken glass is enough to convince me to not use glass. Last night, I emailed those who performed the study to see if they have more information that could help soapers, but I did see in the report that UV exposure made PP leach estrogenic hardeners, softeners, and antioxidants (those that cause cancer) MUCH more quickly and severely. The study didn't provide enough detail to answer all questions, but here's a summary of what they found: "This leaching of monomers and additives from a plastic item into its contents is often accelerated if the product is exposed to common-use stresses such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight, microwave radiation, and/or moist heat via boiling or dishwashing. The exact chemical composition of almost any commercially available plastic part is proprietary and not known. A single part may consist of 5–30 chemicals, and a plastic item containing many parts (e.g., a baby bottle) may consist of ≥ 100 chemicals, almost all of which can leach from the product, especially when stressed. Unless the selection of chemicals is carefully controlled, some of those chemicals will almost certainly have EA, and even when using all materials that initially test EA free, the stresses of manufacturing can change chemical structures or create chemical reactions to convert an EA-free chemical into one with EA." Salt water and ethanol were some of the other stressors tested on various types of plastics.

    My cat LOVES to be near me in the kitchen or anywhere else, but if she caught of whiff of lye, she'd probably bolt and wait for me to come to her. The apartment is big enough that a small amount of fumes released for only a few minutes under a vent (with infrequent batches) may disperse to safe levels for a parakeet and cat. Parakeets are more chemically sensitive than cats. I've heard that teflon pans (not something I would ever use) heated too much has killed parakeets.

    Hi, IL. Thank you for the clarification that Carolyn (cmzaha) was probably specifying to not store lye solution in metal (e.g., the metal canning lid). I see!

    It is good to know that the named plastics can withstand the alkalinity and heat of soaping, but with regard to health, last night I e-mailed the scientists who studied the release of estrogenic chemicals from plastics (including HDPE and PP but without numbers specified)--those which cause cancer--to see if they can shed light on the relative safety of mixing and storing in HDPE #2 and PP #5. If I decide to store a lye solution long-term, a reclaimed laundry detergent bottle is a great idea! And if the safety of long-term storage of lye solution in stainless is unknown, I'll have to make small batches: one by one.

    Hearing of the breakage during your very first use of *several* Ball canning jars was enough to convince me to not use glass. As others have stated and you have experienced, I really would not be able to assume safety for even a short period of time.

    I'd like to avoid the gel phase by keeping everything cool and refrigerating or *freezing*, as one person suggested, immediately upon pouring... So, I guess I'll skip the honey, too. Unless I decide to insulate with towels for a honey batch. But again, for me, until I get more details form the scientists on the estrogenic (estrogen/cancer) effects of plastics, I hesitate to allow much heat to contact plastic liners/molds or perhaps even silicone molds. Short periods of heat would be safer than hours, and lower heat better than high. Seeing from the study that things which stress plastics usually release those EA chemicals into the product has led me to feel more cautious than many people feel comfortable with. (I'm often mocked by my landlord for trying to reduce my risk that much.. He says "100%" even though he doesn't realize that right now I eat plenty of NONorganic food which increases my risk. It's largely a matter of controlling what I'm able to, within my budget.)

    Haha! :) My stress is gone.

    I'm not sure how to express this next sentiment, but perhaps I would say that I think I've observed how more details are oftentimes needed to resolve questions/feelings of, "Why did you do that?"
     
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  15. Jul 22, 2019 #16

    KristaY

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    Hi Jennifer! I see you're in Phoenix :thumbs: Have you been to Arizona Soap Supply yet? They have classes on soap making so I think you should check it out. I'm not sure how the classes are as I've never been but it's a resource close to you and might answer a lot of your beginner's questions. Here's the link to Soap Making Class 101:

    https://www.arizonasoapsupply.com/product/soap-making-class-101/
     
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  16. Jul 23, 2019 #16

    steffamarie

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    So here's my next line of thought. Supposing that plastics including silicone do release these chemicals, I'd like to posit the question: even if they were released in amounts that are capable of causing physiologic effect on humans (such as causing cancer), how susceptible is the skin being washed by the soap to absorbing these chemicals? Can they be ABSORBED in quantities capable of causing an effect? Are they quickly metabolized by the liver/kidneys? Do they increase the risk of adverse effects enough to make a difference to you personally as to whether you'd use them or not?

    I realize many of these may be rhetorical/unanswerable questions - I just want to continue down the path that you've begun to think along. Is it something that poses a large enough risk to your health that you don't feel comfortable even attempting it? Or can you accept the risk when weighed against the benefits?

    There are lots of things that we come into contact with on a daily basis that COULD harm us. But you only live once, you know? So it's up to you to balance risk vs benefit in this case, but also in many other situations daily. For me, soap making is fun, satisfying, a good creative outlet, and produces something that I can share with my friends and family. I would be using commercial body wash otherwise - and that's sure to be full of things that are not totally natural (and also would be manufactured in a manner that probably doesn't comply with the process you're proposing).

    I think this is a good dialogue. It's always good for us to be aware of our surroundings.
     
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  17. Jul 23, 2019 #17

    cmzaha

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    Well said.
     
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  18. Jul 23, 2019 #18

    AZJen

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    It's the risk to whoever is using the soap, myself or customers, that concerns me largely because the researchers were very concerned about the laboratory effects of what was extracted from most of the products on the market. (They know of safe alternative chemicals at very little cost increase to manufacturers and are proposing a change to the manufacturing of plastics.) But I was wondering the same thing last night--how much risk is there to have these things in soap that's immediately washed off of the skin. If there are no unsaponified oils remaining in the soap, there may be little risk from the soap itself. Synthethic/Plastic fibers in clothing (making up most of the clothing on the market) probably present a far higher risk, including that the fibers etc. end up at the waste water processing plant and possibly in our tap water.

    There are many things in our environment that I'm certain DO harm us. For example, third hand smoke (the residue that lands everywhere and even enters schools and then circulates throughout them via the cooling system) that reacts with other chemicals in the environment to produce even more cancer-causing chemicals. My landlord smokes in the yard next to my organic vegetable garden, and his landscapers spray Roundup right outside my yard. There's only so much we can do, but I don't like to contribute to the collective problem any more than I have to. (That said, I do contribute to the problem in various ways. For example, I wear some synthetic fibers and use them to clean instead of investing in a 100% organic cotton or linen wardrobe.)

    If it is true that if we can't find a better alternative, we'll have to go with an unknown from elsewhere. And if we can't, then it's best to not worry about what's not possible to change. *But if there is an easy enough alternative, I see no reason to not use it. Additionally, no planetary progress will happen if everyone takes the easier road. Striving to improve upon the old/existing is how things improve.*

    Thank you, Krista!
     
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  19. Jul 23, 2019 #19

    earlene

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    I think that is the main point to consider in this question: Is it an easy enough alternative? Using high quality stainless steel instead of plastic or silicone for soap making: mixing bowls, utensils, measuring cups/pouring vessels, lye solution mixing and long term storage for master-batched lye solution, etc. etc. should certainly be possible, but at very high cost. Doable, for some, not for others. And to pass the cost on to customers, one would run into other challenges as well.

    My point is that what may be easy for you (if you have the where-with-all) is not necessarily easy for every soap maker.
     
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  20. Jul 23, 2019 #20

    steffamarie

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    I am totally on board with reducing one's impact on the environment. I think if you have the resources and capital available to make your soapmaking comply with the suggestions made by the researchers who conducted this study, then go for it! I'd also encourage correlating the results of this study with other similar research to have the best possible understanding of what's happening when these plastics are "stressed". One study isn't really a large enough body of evidence.

    I wonder if this is a case of fighting the wrong fight. We should be concerned about what we're allowing into the environment, but there are things we all can do that will make a much larger difference. Choosing public transport or bicycling, carpooling, reducing use of fossil fuels. Recycling anything - properly - and reducing landfill waste. These things can be easily done on a wide scale and will have the greatest impact on the environment as a whole. If the manufacturing process of plastics CAN be changed, then that may help, but that's out of our control.

    For me, it won't change my practice. As a hobbyist, I'm not concerned enough that any hormones leached from plastic will be enough to make any sort of impact on my body. The money I would need to spend on supplies would be prohibitive to me enjoying my creative outlet, so for me it just doesn't make sense. And at any rate, I think it's a better focus for me to try to modify my diet and exercise to keep my body healthy. Your mileage may vary, of course.
     
    Ladka likes this.

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