How long for lye to cool, and where to put it + cleaning

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

TheBobbiesRSurly

Active Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2016
Messages
36
Reaction score
5
Hi all!

So I grabbed Pure Soapmaking by Anne-Marie and I devoured it as soon as I got it home. I'm left with some questions on lye though.

I'd like to soap at room temp, and some people make their lye solutions ahead of time so they can cool down. About how far in advance can I make a lye solution, and how long does it take to cool down in just water?

Where does one store the lye solution? I'd prefer to make it outside because it's hard to find a good ventilated place inside, and I worry about the fumes.

The book states soapmaking stuff can be washed in the sink like any other dish. I only have the one kitchen sink, and I worry about everything affecting the septic tank after a while. Are there any other ways to clean soaping stuff?
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
I'd like to soap at room temp, and some people make their lye solutions ahead of time so they can cool down. About how far in advance can I make a lye solution, and how long does it take to cool down in just water?

For my typical batch (32 ounces of oil) it takes less than an hour. You can make it as far ahead as you like - some people masterbatch their lye, meaning they make it days or weeks ahead and use it as they need it. I usually make my lye water first, then do everything else. If I am making a larger batch, I sometimes make the lye water the night before.

Where does one store the lye solution? I'd prefer to make it outside because it's hard to find a good ventilated place inside, and I worry about the fumes.

I store mine in my basement. I use a cheap pitcher with a lid.

The book states soapmaking stuff can be washed in the sink like any other dish. I only have the one kitchen sink, and I worry about everything affecting the septic tank after a while. Are there any other ways to clean soaping stuff?

I too have a septic sink and I haven't had a soap-related problem. Some tips -
- Use a silicone spatula to squeegee every bit of soap into your mold. Then wipe everything down with paper towels.
- If you let the soapy stuff sit overnight, it behaves more like soap and less like oily glop. It's much easier to wash that way.
- Pour sour dairy products (like soured milk) down the drain. It's like yogurt for your septic system.
 

BrewerGeorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2015
Messages
1,337
Reaction score
1,899
Location
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
The nice thing about soap is that it's self-cleaning! :D

Seriously, if you have somewhere you can just leave your stuff until the next day (I use my garage sink.) the remnants left on everything become fully soap and wash off. If you do that, by the time you run anything down the drain it will just be soap - no lye left - so I wouldn't think it would do more to the septic than using soap in the shower.

Everything you're going to read is going to try to scare you to death about lye, which is fine. Nothing wrong with a little fear when you're starting out, and they have business liability to protect. But it's not going to dissolve your flesh in seconds like some sci-fi monster's blood. Common-sense precautions, practiced religiously will keep you safe.
 

chela1261

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2015
Messages
95
Reaction score
79
Location
Massachusetts
I have a huge stainless steel bowl that I wash all my soaping stuff in. Sometimes I leave it overnight to soak and sometimes I'll wash them right after I'm done soaping
 

IrishLass

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
17,237
Reaction score
11,056
Location
Right here, silly!
Lye solution can be made months in advance, even years in advance. That's basically what I do, because I hate having to make lye solution for every batch of soap I make.

I make a master-batch of concentrated 50/50 lye solution, which I store in a sturdy, tightly closed HDPE #2 container (which happens to be a re-purposed laundry detergent bottle- the kind with a drip-free spout). I basically make enough of the 50/50 solution that will last me through 7 or 8 batches of soap before needing to make more. I store it inside my house in a safe/out-of-the-way place.

The reason why I make a master-batch 50/50 concentration instead of let's say a 33% concentration (which is what I use for the majority of my batches) is because it can be stored more compactly than a 33% master-batch solution, and the math is very easy to do when it comes to diluting it/converting it to whatever other different lye concentration that I might want to use for whatever particular batch I'm making.

Lye fumes are nasty and not good for lungs, so your concern is a healthy one. I make my solution out in my garage where there's good ventilation, and for extra measure I always hold over my mouth and nose 3 thick, tightly woven cloth diapers folded in on themselves in triplicate twice in order to prevent me from breathing in any of the fumes while making it.

Storage containers: make sure it is lye compatible (not all containers are lye-friendly). Three of the best to use are HDPE #2; Polypropylene #5 i.e., PP #5; and Naglene. Keep your solution away from polyethylene (PETE) plastics because the lye will eat right through them. Ask me how I know, lol.

Re: how much time it takes to cool down- if you find things are taking too long, you can always put your container of freshly-made lye solution in a bowl of ice to cool it down, or you can freeze the water for your batch into ice cubes and add the lye to the cubes.

Re: cleaning up: I don't have a septic tank, but for what it's worth, I do as Dixie does- I use a good silicone spatula to squeegee every last bit of soap batter out of my pot and swirling cups into my mold before washing them up in my sink.


IrishLass :)
 

TheBobbiesRSurly

Active Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2016
Messages
36
Reaction score
5
Thank you so much everyone!! I really appreciate the feedback :D

It's good to know I can make the lye solution so far in advance, I really hated doing that when I first did soap. The very first time I got lye, it came in a plastic-type container and the lye itself was in really superfine granules, and there was static or something in the container because that stuff would NOT stop sticking to the thing. Plus they scattered wildly when I tried pouring it out. It was awful. It got on my arms and it was hard to clean up the debris.

Got some lye from Brambleberry (which I luckily still have a bunch of in my kit!) and it's in big chunks. Love that stuff. So much easier to work with. Not that I still like working with lye at all, lol. But I'd love to be able to make batches of it and store it for later.

@BrewerGeorge - YES! Everywhere I go, I get bombarded with info about lye and they start to become horror stories. The first time I worked with it, I was almost shaky from nerves because it's talked about in such a frightening manner. I was convinced any spec would be deadly, LOL. I'm trying not to worry too much about it this time, a healthy respect and caution is all that's needed. It's hard not to let it get to me though. The few times I accidentally got some lye on me (it was the granulated kind), it took a few seconds to actually burn. I poured some vinegar on it and things were fine after, though now I'm reading that vinegar isn't encouraged for taking it off skin - just water now. I figure I'll keep both around just in case.
 

Susie

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
9,694
Reaction score
9,181
Location
Texas
You can keep the vinegar around to take lye off of solid surfaces, but use water for skin. Truthfully, I got tired of the spray bottle of vinegar taking up space, and dumped it.
 

shunt2011

Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
15,445
Reaction score
9,725
Location
Michigan
I do the same as TEG. Just wipe up my soaping area after I'm done cleaning up all the dishes.
 

Susie

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
9,694
Reaction score
9,181
Location
Texas
I just take my soapy dish rag and wipe down the counter top and back splash, just as if I were cooking. I wipe spills and splashes up as I go with a Clorox wipe, so there is not much (if anything) left.
 

susiefreckleface

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
74
Reaction score
41
Location
So Cal
Hi all,

I go outside for the lye mixing. I like to prepare the lye first and let it cool while I'm preparing the oils. So far my target temp has been 105 degrees. What a great practice IrishLass has in place of pre-made lye concentration and storing it safely out of the way (hey my husband has his liquid drano stashed for the pipes). Brilliant 'Lass.. brilliant.

Usually by the time my oils are weighed out the lye is pretty close to 100. faster in the winter of course. I nest the lye mixing cup inside of a larger measuring cup that contains cold water to try and keep it from building so much reactive heat as I stir the crystals into the water. I don't let it stay outside though, I bring it inside and place in the sink while I finish up prepping the oils.

I'm a newbie - only been at CP since 01-01-16.
Wow - I remember the fear of lye back on New Years day with my first CP. I keep my healthy respect for it, I did get a little cocky in the summer by wearing walking shorts and not long pants while soaping. But fall/winter is here again so back to long pants.
 
Top