08-16-2015, 05:50 PM
#1
  • Scoti
  • Member
  • Ontario, Canada
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Are shaving soaps that contain lye safe and healthy to be putting on your face?

I know lye decomposes bodies you want to get rid of but it is also an ingredient in some soaps. That being said how safe is it?

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 08-16-2015, 06:21 PM
#2
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(08-16-2015, 05:50 PM)Scoti Wrote: Are shaving soaps that contain lye safe and healthy to be putting on your face?

I know lye decomposes bodies you want to get rid of but it is also an ingredient in some soaps. That being said how safe is it?

Yes. When you make soap you have to add lye, "sodium hydroxide" to the fat to react and make soap. It's called saponification. In the old days when soap was made at home they would save their wood ash from the fireplace, potassium hydroxide to add to the fat in the pot and have saponification and end up with homemade soap.

Sarcophagus is latin for flesh eater, they were made from limestone. Lye will do the same but you don't have that concentration in soaps.

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 08-16-2015, 07:36 PM
#3
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If the soap is made properly all the lye should have reacted with the fat, and therefore there should be no remaining lye in the soap. According to Wikipedia most handmade soaps are made with an excess of fat (no citation on that though) to make sure all the lye is consumed. I'm assuring that all factories making soaps have some form of quality control in place to make sure no remaining lye is present in the soaps.

So while lye (sodium hydroxide) and potash (potassium hydroxide) are ingredients in soap making, neither should be present in a finished soap - so just use the soap and enjoy. If you're reacting to a soap it's most likely something else your skin is disagreeing with.

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 08-16-2015, 07:39 PM
#4
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Um, you wouldnt have soap if it werent for lye. But after saponification (a chemical process) the lye changes to something other than lye. So no, there isnt any lye in soap. So your soap is safe. Thats why most soapers "superfat" their soaps, just to ensure more fat is left over after the chemical process.

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 08-16-2015, 09:11 PM
#5
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+1  Every soap that you have ever used in your life was made with lye.  That includes so-called "glycerin soaps", and anything that is not solely detergents.  When lye is combined with oils and fats, it combines with the fatty acids therein and creates soap and glycerin.  The small amount of oil left unsaponified is your cushion of superfat, and no lye is left over.

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 08-16-2015, 09:38 PM
#6
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I've heard of some people using soaps that contained some unreacted lye that burned their face. Amateur soaps from farmers markets and such. Accidents can happen. It is Murphy's law.

I know @RobinK might have some interesting things to say about this...

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 08-17-2015, 01:34 AM
#7
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(08-16-2015, 09:38 PM)fram773 Wrote: I've heard of some people using soaps that contained some unreacted lye that burned their face. Amateur soaps from farmers markets and such. Accidents can happen. It is Murphy's law.

I know @RobinK might have some interesting things to say about this...

That is, arguably, why it's better to peruse the shaving forums rather than buying from some random stranger at a farmer's market. When hundreds of people buy and extol a given artisan here, it's unlikely that artisan is leaving uncooked lye in their soaps.

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 08-17-2015, 05:21 AM
#8
  • urrlord
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  • central georgia usa
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You can buy "lye Soap"(grandma's is one brand) in some stores, it has less fat in it .The amount of lye in it is not harmful.It will leave your skin reeaaally smooth and is suitable to shave with.Just don't look for rich lather or a good scent.

On a side note my mother made lye soap when I was growing up(early 70's) and added it to the laundry wash .I had the cleanest, whitest football pants in the league.Other moms asked my mom how did she do it.I also made soap as part of a junior high class,along with candles.I'm pretty sure that would not fly today.

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 08-17-2015, 06:31 AM
#9
  • Nero
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  • le montagne
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The point was all soap is lye soap. It's redundant. If there isn't lye, there isn't soap. Clear yet?

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 08-17-2015, 09:16 AM
#10
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If I recall correctly from discussions with my wife (the soapmaker), the first line of defense is a recipe that has been carefully constructed so that all the lye is "used up" in the chemical reaction. The second line of defense is the superfat - the addition of a bit more fat than will be necessary to react with the lye.

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 08-17-2015, 10:59 AM
#11
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(08-17-2015, 09:16 AM)Shannon Wrote: If I recall correctly from discussions with my wife (the soapmaker), the first line of defense is a recipe that has been carefully constructed so that all the lye is "used up" in the chemical reaction.  The second line of defense is the superfat - the addition of a bit more fat than will be necessary to react with the lye.

Plus you can check the PH on the soap - Hot proccess you can test and use almost right away.  The cold process soap I make - I let sit 4 to 6 weeks before testing with a PH strip a second time to make sure it doesn't have any residual lye.

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 08-17-2015, 11:24 AM
#12
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(08-17-2015, 01:34 AM)crazindndude Wrote:
(08-16-2015, 09:38 PM)fram773 Wrote: I've heard of some people using soaps that contained some unreacted lye that burned their face. Amateur soaps from farmers markets and such. Accidents can happen. It is Murphy's law.

I know @RobinK might have some interesting things to say about this...

That is, arguably, why it's better to peruse the shaving forums rather than buying from some random stranger at a farmer's market. When hundreds of people buy and extol a given artisan here, it's unlikely that artisan is leaving uncooked lye in their soaps.

Here is a lye burn case from Prarie Creations http://theshaveden.com/forums/threads/pr...urn.16527/

It does happen or at least is more likely to happen with any unregulated "artisan" working out of their basement. Accidents do happen. I personally feel safer with classic soaps from Europe because they are tried and tested for decades and they have to go through regulations to make them prove they are safe and correctly labeled. Even European "artisans" have to go through this.otherwise you are just at the mercy of the vendors word or the anecdotal experiences of online strangers you have never even seen. As you may recall with the HTGAM (now Phoenix Artsan Accoutrements) fiasco vendors may even lie about their ingredients in the unregulated USA.

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 08-17-2015, 12:06 PM
#13
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The US regulates shaving soap as a cosmetic, but the FDA has neither the willpower or funding to do anything about it.

Improperly made soap is a risk with any manufacturer, so obviously the bigger they are, the more controls and procedures they will have in place. And the larger the batch, the less variance, so again, better QC.

editing to add: phenolthalein is not indicative of a lye excess. Soaps range between 9-10.5 ph, they're basic in nature. Phenolthalein only accurately measures up to 10ph. Lye is 15 or so, IIRC (not sure on lye by itself ph).

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 08-18-2015, 10:05 AM
#14
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(08-17-2015, 11:24 AM)Afram773 Wrote:
(08-17-2015, 01:34 AM)crazindndude Wrote:
(08-16-2015, 09:38 PM)fram773 Wrote: I've heard of some people using soaps that contained some unreacted lye that burned their face. Amateur soaps from farmers markets and such. Accidents can happen. It is Murphy's law.

I know @RobinK might have some interesting things to say about this...

That is, arguably, why it's better to peruse the shaving forums rather than buying from some random stranger at a farmer's market. When hundreds of people buy and extol a given artisan here, it's unlikely that artisan is leaving uncooked lye in their soaps.

Here is a lye burn case from Prarie Creations http://theshaveden.com/forums/threads/pr...urn.16527/

It does happen or at least is more likely to happen with any unregulated "artisan" working out of their basement. Accidents do happen. I personally feel safer with classic soaps from Europe because they are tried and tested for decades and they have to go through regulations to make them prove they are safe and correctly labeled. Even European "artisans" have to go through this.otherwise you are just at the mercy of the vendors word or the anecdotal experiences of online strangers you have never even seen. As you may recall with the HTGAM (now Phoenix Artsan Accoutrements) fiasco vendors may even lie about their ingredients in the unregulated USA.

After a European artisan has a formula approved for production, I doubt that each and every batch is individually tested by some regulatory authority to ascertain its pH level before being sold, so simply being European is not a "no accident possible ever" guarantee.  Also, vendors at American farmers markets are owners of small businesses, not amateurs.  (Amateurs usually get started on Etsy or at smaller occasional shows before developing a product line that will get them a permanent place at a farmers market.) That doesn't mean that all of them make great shaving soap, of course, but that's because shaving soap is a specialty product that not everyone has the knowledge or desire to perfect.  There is an advantage to being able to talk to the soapmaker at a farmers market, to ask questions and possibly see a demonstration.  Most of us welcome questions and are proud of our ingredients.  And yes, I'm a farmers market vendor as well - my popular Marrakesh fragrance was blended in response to a specific request from a f.m. customer, so I consider them a valuable resource for feedback and creativity.  Btw, HTGAM did a disservice to all of us by mislabeling their product, but I think they are the exception rather than the rule.

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 08-18-2015, 08:34 PM
#15
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I think the FDA needs to step up and enforce their own rules. It puts us rule followers at a disadvantage. Maybe a slight disadvantage in most cases, but disadvantage nonetheless.

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 08-22-2015, 06:04 PM
#16
  • Scoti
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  • Ontario, Canada
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I just have one soap that burns my face and listed in the ingredients is lye so that's why I figured lye soaps could be unsafe. 

I'm going with the soap maker as it was made in 2014 when I purchased it.. Maybe it's just my face too who knows. Thanks for the info guys.

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 08-22-2015, 08:27 PM
#17
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(08-17-2015, 09:16 AM)Shannon Wrote: If I recall correctly from discussions with my wife (the soapmaker), the first line of defense is a recipe that has been carefully constructed so that all the lye is "used up" in the chemical reaction.  The second line of defense is the superfat - the addition of a bit more fat than will be necessary to react with the lye.

That's how I understand it. I started making my own soaps recently and as long as you use a lye calculator to come up with the correct amount of lye for the oils you're using I don't see how it would be possible to have unreacted lye. I've been superfatting (lye discounting) 5% for my cold process soaps. So far no problems. Think I will start using ph strips to be safe though.

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 08-22-2015, 09:10 PM
#18
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With careful, accurate measuring of all ingredients, adequate superfat, properly made lye solution, thorough mixing of oils/lye, adequate cooking (for hot process), and pH testing...your soap will not have an excess of lye because it will no longer contain lye, it'll all be soap/glycerin.  A burning sensation can come from improperly used fragrance or essential oils:  spice oils like black pepper, cinnamon bark oil, oxidized citrus oils, fragrances not intended for cosmetic use, or just about anything that you're allergic to, so don't jump to the conclusion that any soap you have a reaction to has excess lye in it.

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 08-23-2015, 11:27 AM
#19
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(08-22-2015, 06:04 PM)Scoti Wrote: I just have one soap that burns my face and listed in the ingredients is lye so that's why I figured lye soaps could be unsafe. 

I'm going with the soap maker as it was made in 2014 when I purchased it.. Maybe it's just my face too who knows. Thanks for the info guys.

It is most likely the fragrance oil. Like we've already said, any and all shaving soaps are made with lye as an ingredient at one point in the process. Unless it came from an aerosol can. Or a tube a la Dove. Then they might be synthetic detergents, but honestly I have no idea what's in those.

If it was excess lye, rather than a skin allergy to a fragrance, then your skin would feel slippery afterwards, if you licked it, there would be a very sharp and incredible tang to it, and your face would be literally turning into soap.

But yeah, every major soap maker uses lye. DRH, Tobs, proraso, everyone.

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 08-27-2015, 07:46 AM
#20
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(08-23-2015, 11:27 AM)wetshavingproducts Wrote: If it was excess lye, rather than a skin allergy to a fragrance, then your skin would feel slippery afterwards, if you licked it, there would be a very sharp and incredible tang to it, and your face would be literally turning into soap.

But yeah, every major soap maker uses lye. DRH, Tobs, proraso, everyone.


I agree with Lee pretty much completely, but for the sake of the information: there is one non-aerosol, brush applied wet shaving lather I know of that doesn't use soap or lye, despite being commonly considered a "shaving soap." Otoko Organics

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