I get asked quite frequently if I put lye in my soap. My answer is always the same - "You absolutely need lye to make soap".
Soap is an alkali (sodium hydroxide aka lye) that when combined with fats, goes through a reaction called saponification. Once this process has been completed, you are left with soap. Without the lye, the soap won't harden. Liquid soap uses potassium hydroxide for the saponification process.
Every fat needs a required amount of lye to turn it into soap. Soapmakers usually use an online Soap Calculator. We enter the measurement of oils we want for our recipe and the calculator gives us the amount of lye that we need to add so that it produces a hard bar of soap. All soapmakers use more fats than the lye can convert into soap. This prevents extra lye in the finished soap.
Now, having typed a brief explanation, you can also get melt & pour (glycerin) soap, pre-made or soap shreds where you don't actually have to add the lye yourself because it was already done when it was initially being made. With melt & pour, you purchase a block (see below) and you can cut it, melt it, and then add your colour and scent. Soap shreds (below) are usually melted in a crockpot with a bit of water, other liquid and/or oils. Once melted, you would add your colour and scent. So no, you aren't directly dealing with the lye yourself, but it was added to the mixture from the company.
|Glycerin Soap Block|
This is just a brief description. This is a lot to soapmaking and it is quite complex. You do need to be extremely careful when you are handling lye. To purchase any of my soaps that were made with lye, click here.