Okay, I am very new to soap making and as I have been reading various recipes, I see most of them call for lye. Is that a staple ingredient in all soaps? I thought lye was extremely harsh to the skin but am I wrong?
Lye has to be in all soap, period.
Read as much as you can before purchasing ingredients or materials. A mentor would be advantageous, or check out someone making soap, read as many forums as you can. There are many different soap out there and methods of doing so. You will discover that there are 2 different kinds of lye; sodium and potassium hydroxides; the former is for CP and the latter for liquid soap.
My first introduction was sitting in on a 2 hour class and the rest I have learned on-line from forums and websites.
Lots of reading,
Â and lots of luck, it is fun!
Good luck finding Lye (aka Red Devil), in my state they stopped selling it because people were using it to make drugs. But you can still get liquid lye, go figure.
Preface: I have not had to use a store bought lye liquid solution.
Having said that, everyone who makes CP soap uses a solution. I do make a lye solution of 2 parts water to 1 part lye crystals.
This would work out to be about 30% solution (or close enough to 30, itÂs 33 1/3%, I would guess).
The math might be a little screwy, but if thatÂs all that is available to you, I donÂt see a problem with it, providing it is a pure lye solution.
Yes and no, it's the way your question is worded.
Lye is not in the end product.
Lye is used to make the soap, it's used in a formula with oils, water/lye. Once soap is saponified, there is no lye remaining, which is why it must cure for several weeks before using it. End by product of all natural soap is glycerin, which handmakers of soap leave in the soap, but big business soap companies remove and sell for profit
No lye, no soap. Period.
Properly made soap does NOT have any lye remaining in it after saponification is finished. However, you do have to use lye if you want to make soap from scratch. Lye is not necessary if you are doing M&P glycerine soaps, because the soap part is already made for you; all you're doing is adding scent/colors/etc.
You should not just use a 30% lye solution and assume that's going to be the correct amount of lye for whatever fat you're using - doing that is how you get soap that eats your skin (but OTOH it'll be great for laundry!!!).
The reason for this is that each type of fat has a different saponification value. That means that (for example,) 1# beef tallow and 1# olive oil will use different amounts of lye to make soap that is fully saponified. If it is your intention to make soap that will be sold to the public, I STRONGLY SUGGEST you find and attend a class with an experienced soapmaker.
I think you can find a lye calculator at http://www.rainbowmeadow.com/infocenter/calc_soap/rainbow_soapcalc.php . Melody at Rainbow Meadow has been making soap way longer than I have - I've been making and using handmade soaps for over 13 years. Her recipe calculator will tell you how much lye to use for a given amount of a given fat. So, for example, if you have a pound of olive oil and a half pound of coconut oil and a quarter pound of beef tallow, then you put that into the calculator, and it will tell you how much lye and water to use.
Get the book _Soap - Making It and Using It_ by Ann Bramson. It's not flashy - paperback, no color pics - but it's a GREAT book. Also, be sure you use a fume mask, goggles and gloves when you're making your lye solution. DO NOT, repeat D O N O T use hot water to make your lye solution (I am SO not kidding on that one.)
I include a link to my website here. When you get there, go to the Soap page and look around; there is a lot of info there.
Here is a link that might be useful: Living Tree Studios