… the short answer is no
I’ve been asked a number of times if there’s lye (caustic alkali salts) in the bar and liquid soaps I make. Apparently, there are some misconceptions floating around that soap can be made without lye and that lye is “bad.”
First, I want to clarify that there’s a difference between a soap made with lye and a soap containing lye. It’s true that lye is caustic and harsh to skin. However, it’s an essential ingredient in making soap; without it, the oils would stay oils and not transform into soap. The important thing to remember is that although true soap has to be made with lye, no lye remains once the alchemy is complete… the oils are no longer oils and the lye has transformed in the process, resulting in a gentle bar or liquid soap.
In addition, the curing process of soap (letting it sit for a minimum of 6 weeks before using) and the ‘superfatting’ practice of adding extra oils to the batch for a more moisturizing feel, eliminates the possibility of any free-floating lye remaining.
There are “cleansing bars” that don’t contain lye, but they also don’t contain soap. These are the ones made from surfactants, similar to the ones used for shampoo. But for true soap, lye is an essential alchemical agent and must be used.
I hope this makes you feel better (and more confident) about using soaps made with lye:)
All my best,