With everything you do there is some level of safety that is maintained. While making soap is very similar to cooking there are some extra precautions that are necessary. The chemical reaction between lye and water (or milk) creates a lot of heat and the steam (mostly water vapor) has sodium (or potassium) hydroxide in it and can make you cough or hurt your eyes if your face is near it.
If you were making soap in a lab you would mix your lye and water under a hood which would suck the fumes away from you.
I know that I can t afford to have an industrial hood in my house, but there are other ways of dealing with this steam. The one I prefer is to use the hood over my stove. I turn on the fan and keep my face away as I mix the lye and water. Another way is to make soap outside. Once the lye vapor is diluted by the outside air it is much less harmful (everything is harmful in excess). Personally I don’t want to make soap outside because of the creatures and people in my small neighborhood. You could wear a mask (which is definitely recommended if you use SLSA, but that is another conversation), but I don’t prefer one. The vapor is created only for a few seconds and I find it easier to just look away.
Your eyes need protection too. If you wear glasses that is all well and good, but some nice goggles with spatter shield are even better.
Another concern would be your hands.
Spills and splatter happen and not only is lye a base that will react with your skin (not nearly as bad as portrayed in “Fight Club”) but it can get as hot as 170 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to wear gloves. I like the dish washing gloves because they have some thermal protection and are washable so I don’t have to constantly buy new ones. I do not suggest latex gloves like doctors wear. Those can melt at the temperatures you will be dealing with, and you do not want to try to get melted latex off your skin while it is burning. Plus dish washing gloves go past the wrist and usually to your elbows or close to your elbows, offering more protected area.
Long sleeves and pants are also important.
I have spilled a gallon of oil on the floor, could you imagine if it was lye water instead. Plus oil is a slip hazard. (best way to get oil up is kitty litter) A little splatter on your clothes wont hurt you and will protect your skin. I wear an apron (partly for the cuteness factor), but mostly to protect my clothes. Oil is a pain to get out of clothes.
Keep the kids and pets away.
My kids love being right up near me, especially when I tell them to back off. Just like with cooking you don’t want a child to get burned. I put up a gate between my soap room and the living room. This way I can see and hear what the kids are watching but also keep them away and safe. Mostly I wait till they are sleeping, but if I did that as much as I make soap I would never sleep.