- Always wear safety goggles (eyeglasses will not suffice). If sodium hydroxide comes into contact with your eyes it can cause permanent blindness.
- Always wear nitrile gloves (not latex) and long sleeves. Cover as much skin as possible. Chemical burns caused by sodium hydroxide are “slow” burns. These burns cause itchy, stinging sensations that feel less intense than thermal burns. Nevertheless, it is important to act quickly and treat the burn as soon as you feel these sensations. If you feel any itching or stinging, rinse immediately with cool water for 1 minute.
- Use only stainless steel, plastic or silicone tools when handling sodium hydroxide. Sodium hydroxide will erode pans made of other metal alloys or enamel, which can result metal residue in your soaps or a hole in your pan! Heat-resistant plastic or stainless steel tools are best.
- Use your soap-making tools only for this purpose; do not reuse with food.
- Always add sodium hydroxide to water, not the other way around. A useful trick to remember this: chlorine goes into the pool; the pool doesn’t go into chlorine. Doing it the other way can cause an explosive reaction.
- When mixing sodium hydroxide, always work in a safe area with adequate ventilation. When mixed with water, sodium hydroxide emits fumes that can cause violent coughing if inhaled. If you are working near an open window, make sure to stand away from the breeze.
- Be careful when carrying sodium hydroxide. Make sure your path is clear of any obstacles that could cause you to trip.
- Always label your sodium hydroxide and water mixture, which will look like plain water. Clearly list the ingredients and keep out reach of children and pets.
- Be careful when weighing sodium hydroxide crystals and make sure to clean up any spills promptly. Vinegar neutralizes sodium hydroxide on contact. Sodium hydroxide crystals can cause contact burns on the skin, as it reacts with the skin’s natural moisture.