One of our visitors sent us an email because she heard lye is not good for your skin. Since lye is listed as an ingredient of Roamstead Naturals Handcrafted Goat Milk Castile Soap, we decided to share most of our response here in this blog post for anyone else who may have this valid concern.
It is true that lye is not good for your skin. In fact, it is a dangerous, caustic substance that must be handled with care and respect. We use protective gear when handling and using lye. Thankfully, there is no remaining lye in finished, aged soap.
The lye (sodium hydroxide) in our ingredient list is used to react with the organic extra virgin olive oil (triglycerides) and the cream in the fresh, raw goat milk to turn it into soap. This process is called saponification. The resulting compound is fatty acid of salt (sodium olivate in the case of olive oil), which most people call soap, and glycerol, which many people call glycerin. Both of these components are good for your skin.
Sodium olivate (castile soap) is a non-toxic, gentle, low hazard surfactant which has cleansing and emulsifying properties. Surfactants help to cleanse your body and hair of excess oils and other substances that are usually insoluble in water.
Glycerin is a safe, non-toxic solvent and denaturant, which helps to clean by dissolving and breaking down other substances. It is a humectant, which means it retains and preserves moisture. It is an emollient, which means it soothes and softens the skin. Glycerol is also a hair and skin conditioning agent and protectant used in many commercial lotions, creams, and hair conditioners. Some products use glycerin that has been removed from industrially produced soap and or they use a petroleum derived glycerol.
We hope we have thoroughly explained the role lye plays in our soap. Hopefully, we have shown that lye is no longer present once our soap is cured. We are grateful to our visitor for taking the time to raise our awareness of potential apprehensions. Please feel free to contact us if you have other concerns or questions about our soap. We love sharing what we know with others and will do our best to provide complete answers.