Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
Lye is the substance that converts fats into soap. This process is called “saponification”.
While raw lye can be dangerous if not handled properly, soap properly prepared using lye is absolutely safe because the lye is “used up” in the saponification process that occurs during the 6-week soap curing period. We use software to calculate the correct amount of lye and we “superfat” the soap, which means that we add extra fats to the recipe. This unsaponified oil in the soap bar ensures that all of the lye has been “used up”. The added benefit is that this “superfatting” ensures a more moisturizing bar of soap.
The saponification process creates super-moisturizing glycerin as a by-product. In commercial soap production, this valuable glycerin is removed to sell to beauty product manufacturers. One of the advantages of handmade soap is that the skin-loving glycerin is retained in the soap, resulting in a better bar of soap.
Lye is also used in the food and beauty industries. For example, as a PH adjuster in mass market lotions and shampoos, to remove the pith from mandarin orange slices, and in the manufacture of pretzels. So nothing to be afraid of…