How to Dissolve Lye Without Creating Fumes.
It is common to hear soap makers complain about the fumes when dissolving lye. And often they will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the fumes. We see the wearing of masks. Moving the mixing outdoors, etc.
Fact is, with the correct equipment, an understanding of the chemistry, and the correct technique, the dissolving of lye will not create fumes that go into your work area.
At Indochine Natural we prepare multiple batches of lye (NaOH). The safety and health of our artisans is paramount. We do not take risks.
- Stainless steel pots with lids. You need to purchase these pots in a size that matches your soap batch size.
- Also required are stainless steel mixing spoons.
- Anything less than stainless steel is a safety risk.
- Safety glasses.
- Weigh out the required NaOH into a small stainless-steel pot with a lid.
- Weigh out the water required into a stainless-steel pot with a lid.
- Remember, you will be adding the NaOH to water, not the other way round.
- Add about 1/3 of your NaOH to the water. Stir well. As you are stirring, the solution will go from clear to a cloudy white colour. This is the stage that fumes are produced. Place the lid on the pot and wait.
- How long to wait depends on the ambient temperature? In our case, it is around 5 minutes.
- If you now open the lid, you will see that the solution is clear. And there are no fumes.
- Add the second third of your weighed NaOH. Mix vigorously, replace the lid, Wait.
- Again, after about 5 minutes, open the lid and you will see a clear solution. Repeat for the last portion of NaOH.
The thing to know then is that fumes are only produced initially after adding the NaOH. And when the solution goes from a clear to a cloudy white colour. In a few minutes, the solution turns clear, and there are no fumes.
Dr Mike Thair
Co-Founder & Master Formulator