My first lye burn

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by MickeyRat, Jun 23, 2019.

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  1. Jun 23, 2019 #1

    MickeyRat

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    I've been making soap a little more than a year and I've had a few accidents but, I wasn't burned. I had mixed the lye and oils in a batch and was working it to trace when I spilled about half the batch in my lap. At first, I thought my pants had saved me. I stripped them off and threw them n the garage sink. About the time I got back, i could tell that I was in trouble. So I ran for the shower where we have a hand held nozzle. I sprayed one leg then the other. For a while, I was switching back and forth between legs pretty quickly but, it got better soon.

    One thing I noticed is that the oils were still on my legs. I'm not sure it was the right thing to do but, I washed them off with soap hoping that would make the water get the lye better. That might have been the wrong thing to do but, it seemed to help.

    The other thing I noticed as time went on is that places I didn't think were exposed initially, started to burn so I sprayed them too. I was in the shower about 30 minutes. The best thing to do is avoid this situation. However, if something like this does happen to you, spend more time rinsing than you think you need.

    I'm sure there are others with worse stories to tell. I'm just posting this to remind everyone to be careful and to get any advice others have to offer.
     
  2. Jun 23, 2019 #2

    Mobjack Bay

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    @MickeyRat I’m really sorry to hear that you got burned. It sounds painful. Hopefully others will chime in with ways to neutralize the lye as quickly as possible. (Edited to delete unhelpful speculation)
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  3. Jun 23, 2019 #3

    Iseleigh

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    Are you sure it was the oils and not the lye itself? Lye solution is slippery, like soap. I keep white vinegar nearby in case the lye gets on skin as it helps neutralize it.
    In my experience, if I feel slippery, the next stage will be itching then burning. If I start itching somewhere besides my hands, I know I've gotta grab the vinegar quick. I usually wash with soap after and haven't had a problem.
     
  4. Jun 23, 2019 #4

    cmzaha

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    :thumbs::thumbs: Vinegar is a no no. Lye is a chemical burn that you do not want to spray with vinegar. MSDS states to use copious amounts of cool water, if a spill happens.

    The poster spilled her batter getting to trace, so it was probably already emuslified, but raw soap will burn just as much.
     
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  5. Jun 23, 2019 #5

    MickeyRat

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    Thanks for the replies folks. It really hasn't been that bad so far. I think I got it rinsed off fast enough to avoid all but a little skin irritation. Something like a sunburn.

    Hard to say. It felt oily even with water running on it. I'm not sure it was the right thing to do in this case. Previously most of my mishaps were at trace, pouring into the mold etc. Then a quick rinse and wash with soap usually does the trick. This time I hadn't been mixing long so very little of the lye had a chance to saponify. I don't know whether it makes a difference but, I was using a 5% KOH 95% NOH mixture.

    DeeAnna - who knows more about the chemistry of what we're doing than I ever will - has a web page that I can't find now. However, on there she explains that it's a bad idea to use vinegar for this situation. She recommends rinsing a lot.
     
  6. Jun 23, 2019 #6

    DeeAnna

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    Here it is -- https://classicbells.com/soap/lyeFirstAid.asp

    You were right to rinse as long as you did. You were also right to use soap to get the oils off once the worst of the spill was flushed off your skin. The oils would make it harder to remove all of the NaOH, and lingering traces of NaOH may have continued to damage your skin if you hadn't washed with soap. Good thinking , @MickeyRat -- you handled a stressful, scary experience extremely well.

    Getting on my soapbox about safety -- There's another thread right now where people are talking about not wearing eye protection when soaping. Frankly, I can't understand why they don't, but maybe it takes personal experience to drive that lesson home to some people.

    As a little kid, I accidentally got sprayed with battery acid (sulfuric acid) on my face. Some got in my eyes. The result was hours in the emergency room getting my eyes rinsed out. It took over a week of ongoing pain as my eyes healed. And even today, decades later, I have one eye that tears much easier than the other. I was lucky there weren't worse permanent effects.

    The consequences of NaOH in the eye are the same. I understand why people don't feel the need to wear a hazmat suit while soaping, but I don't get it about not wearing eye protection. A drop of NaOH on the skin can be easily dealt with, but that same drop in an eye means a lot of misery at the very least and permanent loss of eyesight at worst.

    I believe this experience as well as working as a tech in an analytical chemistry lab are the reasons why I'm more safety conscious than others.
     
  7. Jun 23, 2019 #7

    Iseleigh

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    Ah. I've been fortunate enough (in my very limited soaping experience) to not have a bad lye spill or slosh, so I learned something today.
     
  8. Jun 23, 2019 #8

    plantiest

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    Speaking of safety, can I ask a question? I have been using a face shield that goes from my forehead down to my chin. It allows me to use the mask of my choice. Would you feel comfortable with this as eye protection, or would you also go for the goggles. I understand the concept of the best safety, but I'm not sure if safety glasses would unseat the mask.

    Do folks also use rubberized aprons for accidental spills? This is just out of curiosity. I'd always like to hear if there are better safety measures than what I'm already using.

    To the original poster, awesome that you had a shower handy! I've heard lots and lots of water to flush the lye off. Good instincts you have!
     
  9. Jun 23, 2019 #9

    MickeyRat

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    Thanks for the link DeeAnna and for confirming I did the right thing. BTW I used your method to make some pine tar soap. It turned out fine. I did it just to see if I could pull it off. Now have a friend that can't get enough. He's a true believer. :)

    I would think it would be possible to splash something behind the face shield. It's your eyes you're risking. So, what do you feel comfortable with?

    That rubberized apron sounds like a good idea. I think I'll look into it.

    I would say that you shouldn't soap if you don't at least have a hose handy. Whatever you use, you may need to pull some clothes off. You can't be shy about it.
     
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  10. Jun 23, 2019 #10

    Primrose

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    Well I'm one of those who doesn't wear safety gear. I wouldn't recommend it to other people, but I've splashed lye water on my skin and in my eye, and apart from a little tingle personally I don't get much if any of a burn.

    MickeyRat I'm glad yours isn't too bad and you were able to deal with it properly!
     
  11. Jun 23, 2019 #11

    shunt2011

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    Never put vinegar on a lye spill/burn on the skin. It will do more damage. Just rinse well then I wash with soap.
     
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  12. Jun 23, 2019 #12

    Iseleigh

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    Do you mean lye solution or straight lye? I was talking about lye solution if it makes a difference. I should've been clearer. If it doesn't make a difference I should probably stop doing that. :eek:
     
  13. Jun 23, 2019 #13

    DeeAnna

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    "...Speaking of safety, can I ask a question? I have been using a face shield that goes from my forehead down to my chin. It allows me to use the mask of my choice. Would you feel comfortable with this as eye protection, or would you also go for the goggles...."

    Yes, a face shield definitely can work and it lets a person also wear safety glasses or prescription glasses.

    A face shield has to be rated for chemical protection, however. If you go to the dentist, the staff sometimes wear impact-rated face shields which aren't what you want, even though these shields look very light, cool and comfy.

    A chemical face shield has a piece that curves up from the clear portion of the shield to curve back over your forehead. That piece is there so a splash won't drip off the top of your head and down in your eyes. Here's an article of mine about this topic -- https://classicbells.com/soap/eyeProtection.asp

    "...Do you mean lye solution or straight lye?..."

    Either one -- it doesn't matter. Never use vinegar or any other acid to neutralize an alkali on the body. Remove the alkali by rinsing with plain water. The point here is to get the alkali off your skin as soon as possible. If the only water you have available to you is a mud puddle, use it. But cool, clean, running water is the best.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  14. Jun 23, 2019 #14

    TheDragonGirl

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    It doesn't! It makes the lye solution heat up when it reacts to neutralize it, which can give you a thermal burn on top of the chemical burn.
     
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  15. Jun 23, 2019 #15

    Iseleigh

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    Good thing that's never happened. Ya'll might've saved my skin. Lol
     
  16. Jun 23, 2019 #16

    TheDragonGirl

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    Pretty lucky! When I mix up my lye into my water/vinegar mix it goes from cool water to boiling instantly.
     
  17. Jun 23, 2019 #17

    earlene

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    I do
    I always wear an apron, but not rubberized. I used to wear one when I washed dishes at the restaurant. I found it horribly horribly hot, although necessary to keep my clothes from getting drenched, of course.

    But here at home, I simply wear a full size apron to protect my clothes. I have several and wear a different one for making soap than I do for cooking or dirty housework.
     
  18. Jun 23, 2019 #18

    plantiest

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    I started soaping in the bathroom, since we have a long counter. There is a shower with a hand wand. I have no modesty whatsoever. If I spill on me, the clothes will be stripped off instantly.

    I'm curious how they will interfere with the mask, though I'm sure there must be some that will work. I'll look further into it. I was thinking more that the shield would provide face and eye protection, but I thought maybe there were other considerations I wasn't thinking of.

    I'm going to see if there are any lightly rubberized aprons, just enough for the solution to bead up rather than soak in, but I honestly have no idea at this point. It will be interesting to investigate.
     
  19. Jun 24, 2019 #19

    Mobjack Bay

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    I posted on one of the threads, perhaps the one you’re referring to, about getting formaldehyde in my eye many years ago. It was a terrible experience. I always wear my biggest eyeglasses when making soap, but this is reminding me that I should get goggles.
     
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  20. Jun 24, 2019 #20

    DeeAnna

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    Yes, @Mobjack Bay, you're thinking of the same thread. Your experience sounds pretty awful too! Ugh.

    Frankly, any kind of eye protection is better than nothing. If you are only willing to wear regular eye glasses, then so be it. But please wear something to protect those peepers.

    I can't recall a single time in the 5 years I've been soaping when lye solution or soap batter has actually landed on my goggles. But I wear chemical splash goggles anyways, because I'm not going to play Russian roulette with my eyes. I didn't know what trouble I was getting myself into when I was a kid, but I do now. The consequences are too painful and too potentially disastrous to experience twice.
     
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