It burns! It BURNS!

by goatlove

I make soap.  It’s part of my job.  Used to check emails and edit PowerPoint presentations and fly to DC for work, now I spend rainy days making soap.  And I wear an apron while I do it.  BAM!

Anyway!  To make soap, true soap, bar soap, one has to use lye.  Nope, there’s just no way around it.  There are a few things one needs to know about lye before using it, but the most important thing to note is:


Now, it’s been a good long while since I’ve been around any toxic substances… like, not since college Chem 102.  And I spent most of that class fantasizing about my professor and flirting shamelessly with my T.A.  So, I want to preface the next paragraph by saying that I might not be the bluest burning Bunsen burner when it comes to handling toxic chemicals.

The first time I made soap, I got a teeny-tiny drop of the milk and lye mixture on my wrist.  REALLY, it was tiny!  TINY, TINY, TINY!  SO, instead of treating it promptly, I thought to myself, “Meh, it’s just a wee drop.  I’ll let it sit so I’ll know what I’m dealing with.”  I know, I know.  In retrospect I’m shaking my head and rolling my eyes too.

So the lye burned a stinging hole right through my skin and a black blister developed!  At some point I realized it might be wise to treat the burn by pouring vinegar on it (lye is a base that’s neutralized by vinegar, an acid).  So no permanent damage done and lesson learned.  Except… I did it again the next time I made soap, BUT NOT ON PURPOSE!  Lesson actually learned now, and I have elbow length gloves to make sure I don’t burn myself again!

On a side note:  Is there a name for soap makers besides “soap maker?”  Something official sounding and a whole lot nerdier?  Like, “saponifist,” or something?