Mention the word lye and suddenly everyone freaks - just a teeny tiny bit. First thoughts are serious burns, maybe even dissolving bones - after all that it is how lye is portrayed in the crime programs right?
Well yes, lye can do that but did you also know it is used to make bagels? Some bakers will dip the bagel in a lye solution as it speeds up the process that creates the distinctive bagel crust and taste. I am not suggesting you start dipping your bagels or any other food in lye. In fact public health warning - please do not do this!
I even got kicked out of a natural dog products facebook group once for daring to suggest soap (made with lye) was used on dogs. Never mind the fact my entire business is based on this very product - what upset me the most was that the admin did not give me the chance to explain. She just put her opinions all over the post and then blocked me so I could not defend myself which I felt was extremely unfair and unprofessional but never mind, you cannot win them all.
But back to the point. No - you cannot make soap without lye - BUT - there is no lye in the finished product as it has all been turned in to soap, and that is the important point, as the lady who shall remain known as 'facebook woman' will never know as she would not let me explain.
I feel it is important to explain all this as if you decide to embark on a soap making mission you will at some point get asked the question and it is really helpful to have an understanding so that you are able to explain why your soap is safe.
To simplify things as much as possible soap is created by combining natural butters and oils, lye and water. These 3 combined create a super clever chemical reaction and when that is complete you have soap.
It is possible to buy melt and pour soap making kits which do not involve handling lye and these are brilliant for children in particular. The soap will have begun life as a lye and oil solution but the chemical part has already been done meaning it is very safe to handle and no special protective equipment is needed. It is still possible to add colour and scents to personalise it and many soap makers test the water with these kits first before catching the bug and getting into making their own soap from scratch.
If you would like a very quick overview on the soap making process check out this blog. I genuinely believe anyone can make their own soap with the right help and guidance which is why I use all different methods to teach soap making and can help whether you are local to me or prefer to learn from the comfort of your own home.