safely mixing lye in giant pot without splattering

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

johnnyusa

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Hi, can somebody give me an idea how they mix lye in a giant pot safely, without splattering? I did btw use the search function before posting this question, but couldn't find another post on lye safety specifically regarding this issue.
I like to mix the lye w the liquid in the same pot the oils are eventually going to be added to, because when we mix lye in one (properly-sized) pot and then pour it into another larger pot w/ the oils in it, then i feel like we don't ever really know how much lye was actually mixed w/ the oils, because some of the lye was left behind in the properly-sized ss pot before pouring into the larger pot. Know what I mean?
I bought this super expensive scale so I could make 20 lb batches of bar soap and mix the lye/oils & everything in one pot, but then I realized it was pretty dangerous doing that, because if the stick blender can't get fully immersed in the liquid then it splatters. My 12-quart pot makes 20 lbs of bar soap, but to achieve immersion w/ a stick blender using only 30 oz of liquid w/ 67 oz of NaOH is very difficult.
I feel like the 12-quart pot is a good size for 20 lb batches- my 8-quart version just wasn't big enough.
Imho mixing the lye w/ the liquid in the improperly sized pot by holding it at just the perfect angle to get immersion is definitely the most dangerous part of making either bar or liquid soap.
I left some aloe vera juice in the fridge for just two weeks and the lye for my second batch isn't mixing as well as the lye from the first batch. I tried just using a whisk and a spatula but the top crusted up on me but I felt like it needed to be hit with the stick blender after I added touch more distilled water w/ exothermic lye reaction still very hot....no mask...
Usually I do this in the SS (Cuisinart MultiClad Pro) 12 quart stock pot, but this time I used my 8 quart version instead; I was and still am going to pour it (the lye solution from 8 quart stock pot) into the 12 quart w/ the oils after I measure everything tonight or tomorrow, but I've got more dang crusty lye on the sides of the pot than I would like. As I write this it's still hot tho, so maybe once it's cooled down everything will be blended into solution a little better
It was superfatted @ 6% so hopefully it'll be fine and end up at a 3%-4% (superfat). It always ends up being fine. I'll guinea pig it on myself before I give it away for Xmas presents or sell it.

I only wear my $200+ industrial gas mask sometimes. First couple of years I did it in my boxers either holding my breath or using a towel filter. Amazing the stuff we got away w/ when we were learning, isn't it?
No but seriously, I've been doing this super dangerous trick holding the giant 12-quart pot at an angle to achieve immersion in 67 oz of lye without splattering for a really long time. Could somebody please enlighten me on a better way to do it?

No I've never superbatched either lye or oils.
UPDATED: I got my lye and liquid measurements backwards. It was supposed to be 68 oz of lye w 30.3 oz of liquid. That's actually the first time that's ever happened to me and it was bc I transcribed the recipe from an old notebook to a new one. I went back downstairs and the lye/aloe was just a solid clump and that's when I realized my oopsy daisy...by finally looking back at the old notebook.
 
Last edited:

earlene

Grandmother & Soaper
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
8,962
Reaction score
10,365
Location
Western Illinois, USA
It all sounds very precarious and risky to me. I would not even be able to manage the tilting with one hand and SBing with the other, what with my shortness, diminished strength and still-not-fully-healed surgical hand which was broken a month later (yeah, true, bummer).

My issues aside, your process sounds really difficult.

And I'd be concerned about the crystalized lye around the edges of your pot. Do you pour your dry lye into the pot slowly while stirring to make sure it dissolves evenly, or do you dump it all in and then start stirring? The former should avoid crystalization. Also, is your liquid (water or Aloe Juice) extremely cold or frozen when you make your lye solution? If so, you need to add the dry lye even more slowly and stir to ensure it does not crystalize.

I am unclear on one thing though, perhaps you can clarify for my understanding. Do you plan to or do you add your oils to the lye solution? I ask because it's generally taught to add the lye solution to the oils once the oils are already mixed.

As for not knowing for sure that all your lye got into the oils can be assuaged via using a silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the lye solution container, but I've never had what looks like lots of lye solution droplets sticking to the side of the vessel once I pour it into the vessel containing the oils. And I tend to hold the vessel upturned over the oils for a few extra seconds to be sure.

But of course I don't make 20 pounds of soap at a time, so perhaps that is a bit more difficult what with the volume of lye solution and the size and weight of your pots. So I'm probably not going to be very helpful with some of what you are dealing with. I've never stick blended my lye solution, either.
 

Zing

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2018
Messages
1,849
Reaction score
5,577
Location
Minnesota
I am concerned for your safety. I just deleted a lengthy post -- but decided my main message is you have to do more research before making another batch of soap. You've been a member since 2017 but your post makes you sound like a beginner for many reasons. Soaping 101 and Soap Queen have good videos.
 

johnnyusa

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Earlene and Zing,
I mixed up the numbers for the lye and liquid. It was supposed to be 67 oz of aloe w/ 30.2 oz NaOH, not the other way around. That's the first time I've ever mixed up those two numbers in my ten years of making soap, bc I transcribed this recipe from an old notebook.
I totally feel like a doof. This is my first post here ever since way back when my teacher, SB from the Teach Soap forum, graduated me from that forum to this forum back in 2017 to learn the room temperature cold glycerin liquid soap technique from that super nice lady Super Soaper introduced me to.... That was a very strange, but wonderful, experience.
I been whoopin' up eighty lbs of bar soap per year for ten years now, & a ton of the liquid stuff too ever since 2017.
I'm actually a pretty decent soapmaker, Zing. Yea, I'm not going to pretend like that WASN'T really dangerous and stupid, but the thing is that I only make bar soap twice a year now. Well, two batches of 20-lbs of bar soap twice a year, so 80 lbs a year. When I make soap only once or twice a year I forgets the little things, but never forgets don't add liquid to lye, only lye to liquid, or thee shall be disfigured for they rest of thy days.... that's pretty much the main thing to remember, i think, and almost all the other possible errors are self-evident upon committing them during the process, such as occurred to me today.

Earlene, after a couple of years I finally learned to pour the lye in slowly as I stir alternately w/ the SLOTTED spoon and whisk. I make sure the lye is dissolved and not forming a hard plate on the bottom of the pot before I add more lye. I used to just the dump it all in and by morning it was usually always dissolved.

I'm using aloe juice and it WAS cold, right out of the fridge. So the lye melts into solution better if it the aloe's a little closer to room temp??? That's good to know. Thank you, ma'am!!!

Do you plan to or do you add your oils to the lye solution?
-----Great question. After my screw-up today I re-measured the aloe and lye properly and added lye to aloe in the larger 12-quart pot and mixed the lye into solution very easily w/ just slotted spoon and whisk, no sb. I've done this a hundred time before, and usually I mix the lye in the 8 quart stock pot and put the oils in the 12 quart stock pot. Once the beeswax and cocoa butter from the double boiler is ready to pour into the 12-quart stock pot and I get my lye/oil temps within 5 degrees of each other, then I pour the lye solution from 8 quart stock pot into 12 quart stock pot w/ the fats.
------Today (the second time) I mixed the NaOH w/ aloe vera juice in the 12 quart stock pot, & it blended into solution perfectly. Tomorrow I will pour that lye solution into the 8-quart pot, wash and dry the 12 quart pot and then load it up w/ oils/butter/beeswax, and pour lye solution from smaller pot into larger pot.
 

Zing

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2018
Messages
1,849
Reaction score
5,577
Location
Minnesota
Earlene and Zing,
I mixed up the numbers for the lye and liquid. It was supposed to be 67 oz of aloe w/ 30.2 oz NaOH, not the other way around. That's the first time I've ever mixed up those two numbers in my ten years of making soap, bc I transcribed this recipe from an old notebook.
I totally feel like a doof. This is my first post here ever since way back when my teacher, SB from the Teach Soap forum, graduated me from that forum to this forum back in 2017 to learn the room temperature cold glycerin liquid soap technique from that super nice lady Super Soaper introduced me to.... That was a very strange, but wonderful, experience.
I been whoopin' up eighty lbs of bar soap per year for ten years now, & a ton of the liquid stuff too ever since 2017.
I'm actually a pretty decent soapmaker, Zing. Yea, I'm not going to pretend like that WASN'T really dangerous and stupid, but the thing is that I only make bar soap twice a year now. Well, two batches of 20-lbs of bar soap twice a year, so 80 lbs a year. When I make soap only once or twice a year I forgets the little things, but never forgets don't add liquid to lye, only lye to liquid, or thee shall be disfigured for they rest of thy days.... that's pretty much the main thing to remember, i think, and almost all the other possible errors are self-evident upon committing them during the process, such as occurred to me today.

Earlene, after a couple of years I finally learned to pour the lye in slowly as I stir alternately w/ the SLOTTED spoon and whisk. I make sure the lye is dissolved and not forming a hard plate on the bottom of the pot before I add more lye. I used to just the dump it all in and by morning it was usually always dissolved.

I'm using aloe juice and it WAS cold, right out of the fridge. So the lye melts into solution better if it the aloe's a little closer to room temp??? That's good to know. Thank you, ma'am!!!

Do you plan to or do you add your oils to the lye solution?
-----Great question. After my screw-up today I re-measured the aloe and lye properly and added lye to aloe in the larger 12-quart pot and mixed the lye into solution very easily w/ just slotted spoon and whisk, no sb. I've done this a hundred time before, and usually I mix the lye in the 8 quart stock pot and put the oils in the 12 quart stock pot. Once the beeswax and cocoa butter from the double boiler is ready to pour into the 12-quart stock pot and I get my lye/oil temps within 5 degrees of each other, then I pour the lye solution from 8 quart stock pot into 12 quart stock pot w/ the fats.
------Today (the second time) I mixed the NaOH w/ aloe vera juice in the 12 quart stock pot, & it blended into solution perfectly. Tomorrow I will pour that lye solution into the 8-quart pot, wash and dry the 12 quart pot and then load it up w/ oils/butter/beeswax, and pour lye solution from smaller pot into larger pot.
Okay, I have a much clearer picture reading your second post here so thank you for that. There was some ambiguity in your first post and I just got concerned for your safety. Best wishes,
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
2,107
Reaction score
3,534
Location
Oregon
I like to mix the lye w the liquid in the same pot the oils are eventually going to be added to, because when we mix lye in one (properly-sized) pot and then pour it into another larger pot w/ the oils in it, then i feel like we don't ever really know how much lye was actually mixed w/ the oils, because some of the lye was left behind in the properly-sized ss pot before pouring into the larger pot. Know what I mean?
The amount of Lye Solution left in a container even if you don't use a rubber spatula to scrape out every drop won't even register unless you are using a very, very expensive scales that measures in the one thousands or more.

I don't know a single soap maker who doesn't weigh their Lye Solution and oils/butters separately. Unless you are completely mechanized, like the companies who mass produce soap via a continuous process, it is not something I would recommend trying to do because there are way too many opportunities for errors that would affect the entire batch of soap, and while math is my jam, it is far easily to err of the side of caution and just do it separately.

As for your stick blender woes. 1) Don't turn on the SB until AFTER you have immersed it in the liquid. 2) If the bell of the SB can't rest on the bottom of the container without potentially electrocuting yourself, you need to a) make smaller batches of soap or b) get a longer stick blender.

Of course there are options for the latter. You don't have to use a tall soup pot or other round or square container...go rectangle. They take up more space, can be a little more awkward to pour from, but can hold as much and are a lower profile. And given how expensive longer stick blenders can be, another option is a drill and paint stirrer. I master batch my oils/butters and it's what I use.
 

johnnyusa

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Gecko said: I don't know a single soap maker who doesn't weigh their Lye Solution and oils/butters separately.
----yea, me neither. That's why I felt like a doof.

I can electrocute myself from a sb- from the induction coming from stove, or what? R u serious?
I don't really like the 'bell' of the sb to rest on the bottom of the pot bc it scratches my expensive pots, but I take and accept your point. From now on no sb-ing w/ the lye solution... i usually don't, i just haven't made bar soap in nearly a year, except two weeks ago.
Whenever I whoop up bar soap I have to make two batches inside two weeks before the aloe vera juice in the fridge goes bad... Zany you want me to have to make three batches inside of that two weeks time frame bc um why again? It was just a little oopsy daisy but no big deal.

All finished with my new 20 lb batch of soap, ye of little faith.
So I've got 40 lbs curing before I head back to Texas.
About the pics, the soap on the shelf is the batch from two weeks ago from the first 1/3rd of the aloe vera juice. The new batch I just poured in the two 10-lb Brambleberry wooden molds is 28% bb pure olive,30% food-grade organic coconut from the Webstraunt Store, 30% bb palm, 10% organic refined cocoa butter from Essential Depo, 2% organic food-grade triple-filtered beeswax, plus 10 oz of mostly bb's EOs in 215 oz / 13.x lbs total fats (Cedarwood Atlas, Lemon, Litsea Cubea, Peppermint, touch of Eucalyptus I'm tryn2use up), colorants are spirulina pills from the Natural News store crushed up in marble morar w/ pestle , yellow clay, and some organic red root powder I ordered off Amazon and can't remember what name bc I put it in a glass jar.

I think my teacher might be proud of me, God bless that woman.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Latest posts

Top