The first step is to mix the water and lye. I use pure rain water because it’s soft, which contributes to the soap’s sudsing ability. Many people are afraid of lye, but you can’t make soap without using lye. (See my post about “saponification” and how it relates to lye.)
Do you use lye-based products to clear clogged drains? Would you put it on your skin? Of course not! You probably remember references from days gone by that lye soap is scary stuff. This is the reason soap-makers use the term “saponification” for our natural, hand-made soaps. Most people think of lye as only a strong caustic chemical that can burn your skin, or worse. Actually, through the process of saponification and curing, the lye becomes inert and you’re left with a beautiful bar of soap. You can’t make soap without using lye!