Safety & precautions when handling lye and caustic soda

Making soap uses strong alkali (caustic soda) which can be dangerous if not used correctly. It can cause severe burns and can be fatal if ingested.

Call 111 (medical emergency) immediately if you or another person ingest caustic soda/lye or splash lye in the eye!

If you splash lye on your skin, rinse under cold water for at least 15 minutes. In case of severe burns, go to your nearest A&E (Accident and Emergency) or call 111 (NZ)!

Safety is important! Make sure that you and others stay safe by taking the following precautions:

  1. Always store caustic soda in its original, correctly labelled, secure container away from children.
  2. Do not make soap if you will be distracted or have children or pets running around.
  3. Never leave the caustic soda or prepared lye unattended!
  4. Never pre-make your lye! Always make just enough as you need.
  5. Pour caustic soda into the liquid and never the other way round! Adding liquid to caustic soda can cause an extreme chemical reaction, literally exploding in your face!
  6. Always work in a well-ventilated area and do not breathe in the fumes!
  7. Protect your eyes from splashes by wearing protective goggles.
  8. Wear long sleeved protective clothing, closed shoes, and gloves.
  9. Keep your soap making equipment separate from your cooking equipment.
  10. Don’t fill the soap pot more than half full.
  11. Always measure oils and caustic soda by weight and not by volume!
  12. And lastly, always test your soap before selling it or giving it away as gifts!

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