A few concerns were brought to my attention lately about manufacturing soaps and candles while pregnant. It can’t be that bad, can it? I thought I might do a little research for myself!
You can make soap during a low risk pregnancy. You should take precautionary measures such as wear a mask or respirator, wear gloves, lift less than 20 pounds, and take breaks, as necessary. Consult your doctor for your specific needs. Keep your workspace well ventilated as well!
As if there aren’t enough recomendations and things to avoid while pregnant, follow some simple precautions and continue your hobby or business!
Working with chemicals while pregnant
Chemicals are all around us, if you really break it down, H20 is the chemical compound known as water. We should educate ourselves as to which chemicals are potentially harmful and what we can do to prevent intoxication. One of the biggest chemicals in our industry are phthalates..
Phthalates in fragrance oils are used to help carry the fragrance and keep uniformality. After some research, it appears the phthalates used in fragrances for soap and candle making are Diethyl phthalate or DEP. This specific phthalate has little to no affect on the human body.
I actually found a very helpful, scientific website called PubChem that goes in depth with any chemical compound searched. This is what is has to say about safety concerns for DEP.
“Symptoms unlikely from any form of exposure.”PubChem
Phthalates aren’t the only chemical in our hobby’s fragrances. It is important to also be aware of potential hazards in the natural spectrum as well as the synthetic side. Essential oils can have harmful side effects too.
Essential Oils to avoid while pregnant
Essential oils are often missed in the scientific testing world due to their non-synthetic nature. However, like I had mentioned before, even water is a chemical compound. Keep in mind that natural oils, especially highly concentrated plants such as essential oils, can have side effects.
Health experts have written this list of essential oils to avoid for various reasons, either out of precautions due to limited testing or if they have been linked to cause complications.
An article titled Pregnancy Guidlines from International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists goes in depth of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy. This article can be found by clicking this link.
Essential oils to avoid. (high warnings)
Essential oils to use sparingly. (Oils with high levels of phenols)
- Sweet Birch
Essential oils to avoid. (Due to high levels of Aromatic ketones)
Essential oils that are safe to use while pregnant
- Black Pepper
- Marjoram sweet
- Rose Otto
- Sweet orange
- Tea Tree
- Ylang Ylang
These lists were adapted from the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. You can find their article by clicking this link.
“As is evident, most oils are suitable for use during pregnancy; the real danger comes when the dosages are incorrect or irresponsible. Essential oils work with the body, not against it. The body always remains in control with low doses of oils.”International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
Lye is a alkali salt component used to make soap. Lye is mixed with animal or vegetable fats in specific perportions and, once mixed, the two undergo a process called soaponification. This process chemically alters the properties of Lye and the byproduct becomes soap!
However, since making soap requires using Lye in its raw form, it is important to note the dangers and take precautions during the process, especially while pregnant.
“Strong corrosive action on contacted tissues. INHALATION: dust may cause damage to upper respiratory tract and lung itself, producing from mild nose irritation to pneumonitis. INGESTION: severe damage to mucous membranes; severe scar formation or perforation may occur. EYE CONTACT: produces severe damage.”PubChem
PPE for soap manufacturing
This is the recommended Personal Protective Equipment to use while manufacturing Lye soap even when a person is not pregnant. Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) is extremely corrosive in it’s base form. Once it has gone through the soaponification process, it is chemically changed and is no longer as dangerous.
The proper equipment to wear while manufacturing soap is a 100 mg/cu High-efficiency particulate respirator with a full facepiece according to the website PubChem.
To protect your skin, invest in some quality disposable gloves. I prefer powder free gloves such as the purple nitrile gloves that can be found at any store’s first aid section. Also, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to cover skin and prevent exposure.
More related pregnancy precautions
How Much Can I lift While Pregnant?
While a bar of soap might only weight 4 ounces, we have to keep in mind the boxes we are lifting. Also if you are making candles, the wax alone could be shipped to you 50 pounds at a time!
Even while not pregnant, we should practice good lifting posture. We should bend at our knees and use the largest muscles in our legs to lift, rather than our back and stomach.
“A common recommendation is to not lift objects heavier than 20 pounds during pregnancy.”Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.Obstetrics & Gynecology
Of course, there are some variables. It does make a difference if you are lifting from the floor, overhead and how often. Also if you are a low risk pregnancy vs a high risk pregnancy. So, discuss with your doctor as to how much you are allowed to lift and have a friend help with the heavy lifting!
Can You Make Candles While Pregnant?
Other than a few different ingredients, soap and candles have similar dangers to be aware of.
You can make candles while pregnant. Avoid using wicks with lead. You should take precautionary measures such as wear a mask or respirator, wear gloves, lift less than 20 pounds, and take breaks, as necessary. Keep your workspace well ventilated and discuss your craft with your OBGYN.
Best Wax to Use While Pregnant?
Soy or beeswax are both known to be the wax with the least toxic side effects. Paraffin and paraffin blends are petroleum byproducts and are known to release carcinogens when heated.
“The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma[,] None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals”Massoudi, a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Melt and Pour Soap
Melt and pour soap is one alternative to soap making. Melt and pour bases are already manufactured and have already undergone the soaponification process. This removes the danger of Lye, but you will still be adding fragrance and lifting the heavy soap base.
When choosing a melt and pour soap base, choose one without detergents, commonly known as SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate). Not only because this would add extra challenges of labeling requirements, but also because SLS is a synthetic detergent and will add even more precautions to be taken.
Natural soap base is the best choice without added detergents.
Whether you are pregnant or not, if you plan on doing something repetatively, you should take the precautions necessary to protect your health.
I see many people enter the craft making industry because it is something they love to do. But once they have crossed the line from hobby to business they forget about many of the seemingly little or unrelated things such as health precautions.
Take the time, make the budget and plan your next purchase with some PPE in mind!
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