Made soap and forgot the goggles

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Drew Ackerman

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I made soap tonight and forgot to put on my goggles, but i still had my glasses on. I am fortunate that I didnt splash the lye at any time. However, I did get a good waft of fumes after combining the lye and water.

After making the soap I noticed my eyes feel like ive been staring at a screen all day. I took a shower and flushed my eyes out and i feel okay other than my eye being a bit dry feeling.

Anything I should be worried about?
 
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shunt2011

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No, not unless you got lye solution on you. When I make my lye mixture I don't keep my face near the solution. I turn my head and stir it until clear at arms length. You probably just got some of the fumes from what it sounds like.
 

earlene

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If you use any kind of dry-eye drops (I do on a daily basis), you can instill them to improve the comfort level of your eyes. In the old days when I wore contact lenses, I used Normal Saline as my eye drops. Now I actually buy the real stuff for dry eyes because I have to lubricate them every day when I awake in the mornings and sometimes more often depending on the circumstances.

Maybe get a small bottle in case you ever make this mistake again.
 

Drew Ackerman

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The fumes will contain trace amounts of NaOH. The fumes are microscopic water droplets, and these droplets will still be caustic, as they are essentially a solution of sodium hydroxide.

There is no real chemical reaction going on here, but rather a dissociation of the sodium and hydroxide ions, which is an exothermic process. Solid sodium hydroxide is 'hazardous', the resulting solution is 'hazardous' and the fumes above the dissolving lye are 'hazardous'.
from https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/53752/reaction-between-lye-and-water

It interesting that all resources point out what to do when lye gets into your eye, but not when fumes do. I guess they assume no one is looking into the lye solution when stirring because "this is really neat".
 

Obsidian

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I guess they assume no one is looking into the lye solution when stirring because "this is really neat".
You'll only do that once before you decide its not that neat. I've never fumed my eyes but I have breathed them, it wasn't pleasant. Now I keep my face far from the lye while mixing.
 

DeeAnna

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"...all resources point out what to do when lye gets into your eye, but not when fumes do..."

The mist rising from lye solution is also lye solution, so there's no point to treating the mist any differently than the bulk liquid. The hazards, safety precautions and first aid procedures are exactly the same whether you are exposed to the mist or to a spill or splash.

Rinse, rinse, rinse with cool water. Rinse longer than you think you should because it takes a surprisingly long time to remove the NaOH from the skin. Some other safety tips --

As much as possible, keep the lye mist in the container -- don't let it get out in the open air. Lay a paper towel, plastic wrap, or other non-air-tight cover over the container opening. Never seal the container air tight when the lye solution is hot -- you don't want pressure to build up in the container.

Work in an area with good ventilation so any lye mist that does escape the container can be diluted by and carried away in the open air.

Never put your face over or near the opening of the lye container, especially when the solution is hot and steamy. The mist (steam) will contain NaOH, which is why the mist is irritating to the eyes and nose.

After the solution cools slightly and the mist stops forming, the hazard is much lower. Even so, it's still a good idea to form the habit of never putting your face over the opening, just like you'd not put your face in front of the muzzle of a gun.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Once I add the NaOH or KOH to water while stirring, I leave the room for one full minute (or longer) and stir until clear when I return. Like DeeAnna, I also turn my face away from the container while pouring.
 

Obsidian

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I've even had the mist irritate my arms when wearing short sleeves.
 

Kosmerta

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If you notice any vision problems or irritation after more than a day don't hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor to check your eyes.
 

Drew Ackerman

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@Obsidian Yes, I have successfully made a mistake each time I've made soap. Y'all make this look easy when doing it.

@DeeAnna For some reason I didnt assume there would be any fumes

@Kosmerta Ill be sure to keep that in mind for the next time I have an incident :)
 

Obsidian

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@Drew Ackerman
We've all made the same mistakes. I had some pretty spectacular ones in the beginning.
All you can do is learn and move on. I still have my moments and learn.
 

Becky1024

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"...all resources point out what to do when lye gets into your eye, but not when fumes do..."

The mist rising from lye solution is also lye solution, so there's no point to treating the mist any differently than the bulk liquid. The hazards, safety precautions and first aid procedures are exactly the same whether you are exposed to the mist or to a spill or splash.

Rinse, rinse, rinse with cool water. Rinse longer than you think you should because it takes a surprisingly long time to remove the NaOH from the skin. Some other safety tips --

As much as possible, keep the lye mist in the container -- don't let it get out in the open air. Lay a paper towel, plastic wrap, or other non-air-tight cover over the container opening. Never seal the container air tight when the lye solution is hot -- you don't want pressure to build up in the container.

Work in an area with good ventilation so any lye mist that does escape the container can be diluted by and carried away in the open air.

Never put your face over or near the opening of the lye container, especially when the solution is hot and steamy. The mist (steam) will contain NaOH, which is why the mist is irritating to the eyes and nose.

After the solution cools slightly and the mist stops forming, the hazard is much lower. Even so, it's still a good idea to form the habit of never putting your face over the opening, just like you'd not put your face in front of the muzzle of a gun.
Deanna I like your idea of laying a non-tight cover over the container to keep the fumes down. I will try that my next batch!

What I like to do to keep the fumes down is keep the temperature of the lye solution less than 150 degrees F. I keep a stainless steel meat thermometer in the water, and add the lye about a tablespoon at a time while stirring until the temperature reaches about 140. Then I wait until the temperature drops to around 120 before adding more lye.
 

DeeAnna

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I confess I'm not that patient! I'm sure your method works, @Becky1024. :)

Here's a picture of how I keep a light cover (a paper towel or sheet of waxed paper) on a container and still am able to stir the lye solution. I discard this cover after the lye solution cools and it's no longer producing mist. A lye-resistant reusable plastic lid (like a lid from a large yogurt container or cottage cheese container) would be more eco-friendly.

lyeContainer.jpg
 

shunt2011

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I confess I'm not that patient! I'm sure your method works, @Becky1024. :)

Here's a picture of how I keep a light cover (a paper towel or sheet of waxed paper) on a container and still am able to stir the lye solution. I discard this cover after the lye solution cools and it's no longer producing mist. A lye-resistant reusable plastic lid (like a lid from a large yogurt container or cottage cheese container) would be more eco-friendly.

View attachment 42925
This is what I do as well. I use a small lid over the top while it cools.
 

Dawni

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Me I work with a fan behind me when I make my lye solution in the sink so the mist blows away from me hehe
 
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