Would I Lye??
Recently, we heard from a lady who asked if we knew if ‘lye’ or sodium hydroxide used in soap could cause eczema. I replied that anything, including tap water, can cause eczema in sensitive individuals.
I also mentioned that household ‘lye’ as used in Drano and oven cleaners is not the same as the cosmetic grade we use in our soaps. Also, when properly made, cured, and ph tested, the sodium hydroxide is no longer present, just two wonderful things; pure soap and natural glycerine.
I know there are various grades of sodium hydroxide, some more pure than others, and that it is also used in many food products, including some white breads, and in many brands of toothpaste, including natural ones.
Alas, I’ve seen some really crude- looking and rough handmade soaps, where I’m sure they’ve just used ‘lye’ from the supermarket meant for cleaning and scouring. I hope I helped reassure this lady that fine cosmetic-grade sodium hydroxide is much safer than the ashes my grandmother and other pioneers used to make soap. She mentioned that she ‘had been afraid of soap,” and I felt it was sad that such a common everyday humble yet beautiful item should be feared because of the many misconceptions that surround it.
Many years ago, around 1979, when I began making soap, people often asked if it were ‘lye’ soap…..but this rarely if ever happens now. I think Artisan Soaps like ours, made in the fine old Marsailles tradition, are becoming more widely known, especially as more of us sell over the internet…and more and more people enjoy artisanal soaps and would never think of going back to the old commercial ‘syndets.’
I still remember the first bar of fine imported soap made in the English countryside given to me over 30 years ago by my friend Ranjit! It was an epiphany…..and I still tell her she led me astray from my budding writing career to become a West Coast hippie soapmaker! So please, don’t ever be afraid of soap…you are missing one of life’s simple pleasures!