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Mar 30, 2016
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I have wanted to make soap for a few years now and have stumbled across your forum.

I live in Canberra and have been searching the web for someone to teach me how to make soap.

From my reading, it will have a lye base and I am hesitant to do this without supervision.

Can anyone tell me where I can get this training?
Hi jellis,

Have you watched any videos, like Soaping101 on Youtube? If you have no idea of the soap process, that might help you get a feel for it...then set you up to start asking questions when you do find someone to teach you.

Good luck!
Yes, I have watched a lot of videos

However I am still wary of lye.

My husband has been in the fire brigade and SES for a number of years and I just want to be sure of the safety
If you can make a cup of tea or roast some meat in the oven without any incidents, you can use lye to make soap - while it is of course dangerous, the steps needed to offset that danger are fairly simple:

Gloves and long sleeves
No open toe shoes
Safety glasses (not just normal glasses)
Space to move easily with no pets etc around

Just as if you were taking a tray full of hot fat out of the oven, it's not something to just throw around without respect, but with the right gear and mindset it can be done with no mishaps
You remind me of myself before I made my first batch. For decades I was fascinated by the process but was always told that I'd blow up the kitchen or set pots on fire!

I do hope you find someone who can walk you through the first process with you. But if you don't, come back here and we'll help you design your first soap process with all the safety methods built right in.

For instance, I always prefer to soap all alone in the house. The lye, water are measured. Its mixed in a heavy plastic container on a counter and that is the only thing that is on that counter. That way, I won't accidently bump into it or knock something over on it.

There are ways to come up with a system that keeps you safe from the lye. Including a "what to do if you spill soap batter on yourself" sort of stuff.
I am in Jervis Bay - a bit far for a demo. But you shouldn't overthink the lye. It is just so nothing. Take sensible precautions and it will be fine. My DH is a scientist and in the RFS and it is not a worry.

The greater concern is - have I reached trace. Do not pay someone to show you (unless it's $20 for materials). Just get your materials together, a ask as many questions as you want to here and go for it. The process is easy but perfecting it is difficult!

Welcome to the forum, by the way. : )
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Howdy and welcome!

Excellent advice from the previous posters! One thing that seems counter to common knowledge... if you get lye on yourself, DO NOT USE VINEGAR. Only rinse with a bunch of cool, running water.

Sorry for the shouting... just wanted to make that clear.

When making soap, it's best to have everything you need out and in a logical place - so you can grab something without reaching over its neighbor, don't have to scurry around the house looking for a mold, etc.

Check out the first few Soaping101 videos and Soap Queen's beginner safety videos.

I was really worried about using lye at first too... now I know to respect it and simply take proper precautions to stay safe. If you've ever used drain cleaner, you've used lye. Probably without suiting up for safety...
Hey and welcome!

I was scared of lye also. But I knew that I would never find anyone in my area to teach me. So, after watching many, many videos and reading lots of info, I made soap by myself. (LOTS of coaching here, though!) You can do it! We have many threads covering equipment and methods. Just wade off in the beginner section and start reading.

Beware of any videos online that show anyone making soap without gloves and safety glasses. You just do not need to learn their bad/dangerous habits and listen to their bad information.
Welcome Jellis! :wave:

I commend you for your wisdom in wanting to start out cautiously. As long as you take all the proper pre-cautions and treat the lye with the respect it deserves, there is really nothing to be afraid of.

To me, it's is not much different than the precautions I take when I fry bacon (protect the eyes and skin), or when I clean my bathroom with bleach (protect the eyes and skin, and protect your lungs from the fumes). I do these things all the time without fear or even giving them a second thought. They are like second nature to me......................but it wasn't always so. At the beginning, I was petrified of working with lye, like so many of the others here when we first started, but once I made my first batch, I pretty much kicked myself for being so paralyzingly paranoid. lol A healthy amount of fear is good- it teaches us to proceed with the proper precautionary safeguards in place, but it ceases to be of much benefit beyond that if it paralyses you.

Lye is not poisonous, but it is caustic, so the precautions needed when working with lye have to do with protecting yourself from its causticness, the level of which is dependent on it's concentration (the more concentrated it is, the more caustic damage it can do):

1) Wear safety goggles at all times when working with it. Mucus membranes are especially vulnerable to the causticness of lye.

2) Always wear protective gloves

3) When weighing out your dry lye and also when mixing up your lye solution: work in a well-ventilated area away from pets and other people, and protect your lungs from breathing in any of the lye dust when weighing it out, and from breathing in the fumes when dissolving it in water (when initially mixed with water it generates a lot of heat, which produces caustic fumes that you do not want to breathe in). Once the solution has cooled, it is safe to breathe around it.

4) If any dry lye or any lye solution or any raw soap batter gets on your bare skin, just flush with water. You'll know when any has come in contact with your skin by the initial, telltale, itching/mild burning sensation. Thankfully, there's a time lag there when the itching/mild burning is first detected and before it can start to do any lasting damage, so when you feel the first inklings of any itching/mild burning sensation, get to the running water asap to dilute it to harmlessness.

5) Lye and aluminum are mortal enemies. Don't ever mix lye solution and/or make soap in aluminum pots/bowls or with aluminum utensils. As far as metals and lye go, stainless steel is the one to use. As far as plastics go, HDPE #2 and PP #5 are also safe to use with lye. In regards to glass: although glass is non-reactive with lye, it should be avoided due to the etching issue- lye will etch glass and weaken it over time to the point that it can shatter when the least amount of stress is put upon it- several soapers have reported this happening to them, so the official position of our forum is that glass is best avoided.

IrishLass :)
Forgive the American analogy but... sodium hydroxide is like a gun. It has the power to badly hurt you, but as long as you respect it and have the proper training you will be fine.
Welcome jellis! :)

I would like to add that I always use a mask when mixing lye because the fumes really are awful. Even in a well ventilated area, or outdoors, the wind can blow them right up your nose. I just use a dust mask and find that helps a lot.

Also, when it comes to gloves, the close-fitting kind are best (like food handling gloves). I only mention this because when I made my first batch I was so paranoid I wore these big heavy gloves for handling chemicals! Bit of a duffer I was. I was suited up like an astronaut too! No need for that. Good luck and have fun! And let us know how you get on :)

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