The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Lye, soap, bread

idiotbaker's picture

Lye, soap, bread

Can I use lye in my mixer to make soap, wash it out and then make bread?  Does the metal bowl hold any chemicals that could affect the bread?  How similar is food grade lye to soap lye? Is it a concentration difference? Thanks

clazar123's picture

The concentration is the same but there are usually many contaminants in the non-food grade. Both are very strong bases and very caustic. Eye and skin protection MUST be adhered to, as well as protecting anyone near the activity. It can be very dangerous to work with and shouldn't be undertaken lightly.

Are you just using the bowl or also the beater? The beater may be vulnerable to chemical damage from the lye, depending on what it is made of. Is your bowl large enough?  I guess I have only seen large batches made with lye. Also, I generally don't make chemical mixes in my food vessels-there is something not right about that in my opinion. 

Soapmaking with lye is a chemically dangerous activity,also, and you need to protect your skin and eyes. It heats up and expandes some. Putting it in a mixer seems more dangerous to me if you intend to mix the lye and grease. The potential for splashes to you and everything around it has to be considered.

I'm not sure it is wise to use a mixer unless it is expressly for this purpose and then with protective precautions taken for yourself, the area and anyone that may be around the activity-pets and kids.


gerhard's picture

A lot of the food grade designation is the traceability of the product.  Where was it stored, what was in the containers prior to this product, if and how were the containers sanitized and it goes on and on.  The machinery handling the product would be lubricated different for food than non food, the food facilities would have staff trained in handling food.  The products may be exactly the same but for one the history after it was refined is known the other not so much.  


Theresse's picture

Hi -

I make soap and would recommend a big pot from the Goodwill and a good-quality immersion blender (stick blender).  That's what most soapers use and it gets the soap to trace really quickly without risking splashing the way a mixer might.  Or it may be that you already know this and do this but that you're just wondering about the efficiency of using a mixer too (which I get - I just don't think I would do it).  I also make body butter and DO plan on using the stand mixer that I'm hoping to get, for that!  Fun to see another soaper here. :)

Suza's picture

I used to make a lot of soap, when I had milk goats, but haven't for quite a while.  Mostly I made oatmeal/goat milk soap as DH and I both have sensitive skin.

I did try using the mixer (KA) with both the whip and the paddle.  I did not like the results, and returned to hand mixing.  The mixer incorporated too much air and sometimes the soap would separate (could have been another cause for this, I don't know).  At any rate, "fluffy" soap was not my goal.

If you do use a mixer for soap making, it's important to use a stainless steel bowl.  I don't know if the chemical reaction would cause a pyrex mixing bowl to break, but I wouldn't take that risk.