My First Lye Volcano

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Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2014
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Arizona, USA
And hopefully my last!

I was making beer & wine soap. Used 4 different beers and 2 wines, simmered them down by about 1/3 (2/3 volume left) over 20-30 minutes to get all the alcohol and carbonation out. Put each in containers then in the fridge overnight. All worked great except..... a hard cider.

It's a really sweet beer so I have a feeling there's more sugar in the cider than in regular beer and wine. I was slowly adding the lye, bit by bit, gently stirring between additions, got to about half the lye added when BOOM! It just boiled right up and over the container, onto the counter top, down the cupboards and onto the floor. All I could do was jump back and watch it happen. Luckily I always wear all my PPE's (goggles, mask, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and close toed shoes) so no bodily injury occurred. A few colorful expletives flew out of my mouth though, lol. (good thing my mother wasn't around or she would have grabbed one of my bars of soap and stuck it in my trap!)

It really surprised me how quickly it happened. There was no warning, just sudden boiling up and over the container. It was a good thing I was working with beer because of the bright orange color it became. So it was easy to see where the spills were and clean up. I used LOTS of water then vinegar on the surfaces.

I had just enough beer (cider) left over to mix another batch of lye but used it for 50% of the water instead of 100%. I also put the container into the sink basin just in case. That went just fine, thankfully!

I learned a valuable lesson about lye volcanos. Once it starts to happen there's no time to get it into the sink. All you can do is step away until it's done then get to cleaning it up!
Thank goodness you were not burnt. Lye will destroy the finish on wood cabinets and wood floors. And this is why I tell everyone to use oversized containers and put them in the sink. I have had it happen with craft beers that have been simmered, sat open a week in the fridge then frozen and still volcano
It's certainly a crazy scary thing to have happen. I was using 9oz beer and mixed in a 30oz container. I learned that wasn't oversized enough! The thought flew through my mind to mix in the sink but apparently it flew right back out again, especially since it was the 4th batch of lye I was mixing and the first 3 went fine. I can certainly say I'll be mixing every batch of lye in the sink basin from now on, especially when using something like beer or wine as the lye water. Your story, Carolyn, just goes to show you can't trust alcoholic beverages no matter what you do prior to mixing with lye. :crazy:
I know the feeling! Whenever I do beer soaps, I mix my lye in a 70 oz pitcher for less than 16 oz of beer. A lot of times it will volcano to near the brim and die down. Even when its been boiled and chilled. I do it in a sink, in a bathroom, with the fan on just in case. I'm glad you weren't hurt!
Glad you are ok, that could have went wrong really fast. My only volcano was from a white wine that had been simmered but I guess it wasn't long enough. I was using a half gallon pitcher and the mess still boiled over the top, luckily it was in the sink.

Now, if anything is being added besides water, I mix in the sink just in case.