Lye is a
corrosivealkaline substance, commonly, sodium hydroxide(NaOH). Previously, lye was among the many different alkalis leached from hardwoodashes. [McDaniel, Robert (1997).] In modern day, lye is commercially manufactured using a membranecell method, which is an improvement from the previous diaphragmcell methods of Castner-Kellner, Gibbs, and Nelson.
Solid dry lye is commonly available as flakes, pellets, microbeads, and coarse powder. It is also available as solution, often dissolved in water. Lye is valued for its use in food preparation,
soap making, biodieselproduction, and household uses, such as oven cleaner and drain opener.
Lye is used to cure many types of food, such as:
lutefisk, green olives, hominy, lye rolls, century eggs, pretzels, " zongzi" (Chinese glutinous ricedumplings), and Chinese noodles. In the United States food-grade lye must meet the requirements outlined in the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC), [ [http://www.usp.org/fcc/ Food Chemicals Codex] ] as prescribed by the US Food and Drug Administration( FDA). [http://www.fda.gov/opacom/laws/fdcact/fdcact4.htm US Food and Drug Administration] ] Lower grades of lye are commonly used as drain openers and oven cleaners and should not be used for food preparation. [ [http://www.certified-lye.com/index.html Certified Lye] ] [http://www.fda.gov/opacom/laws/fdcact/fdcact4.htm US Food and Drug Administration] ]
Both solid dry lye and lye solutions are
corrosiveand will degrade organic tissue.
sodium hydroxideor solutions containing high concentrations of sodium hydroxide may cause chemical burns, permanent injury or scarring, and blindness. Lye (sodium hydroxide) may be harmful or fatal if swallowed.
Solvation of sodium hydroxide is highly exothermic, and the resulting heat may cause heat burns or ignite flammables.
Avoid all contact with organic tissue (including human skin, eyes, mouth, and animals or pets). Keep away from clothing. Avoid all contact with
The combination of
aluminiumand sodium hydroxide results in a large production of hydrogen gas: 2Al(s) + 6NaOH(aq) → 3H2(g) + 2Na3AlO3(aq). Hydrogen gas is explosive; mixing lye (sodium hydroxide) and aluminium in a closed container is therefore dangerous. In addition to aluminium, lye (sodium hydroxide) may also react with magnesium, zinc(galvanized), tin, chromium, brass, and bronzeto produce hydrogengas and is therefore dangerous. Do not allow lye to contact these metals.
Lye may react with various
sugars to generate carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas; mixing sodium hydroxide and sugarin a closed container is therefore dangerous. Do not allow lye to contact sugar. [http://www.certified-lye.com/safety.html Lye Safety Precautions] ]
Personal protection for the safe handling of lye includes safety glasses, chemical-resistant
gloves, and adequate ventilation. When in the close proximity of lye dissolving in an open container of water, a vapor-resistant face mask is recommended. [http://www.certified-lye.com/safety.html Lye Safety Precautions] ]
Lye is a
deliquescentsalt and has a strong affinity for moisture. Lye will deliquesce (dissolve or melt) when exposed to open air. It will absorb a relatively large amount of water from the atmosphere (air) if exposed to it. Eventually, it will absorb enough water to form a liquid solution because it will dissolve in the water it absorbs. Lye should be stored in an airtight resealable container. Hygroscopicsubstances are often used as desiccants to draw moisture away from water-sensitive items. Desiccants should never be placed inside a canister of lye because lye has much stronger hygroscopicproperties than activated carbonand silicagel (the most common ingredients in commercial desiccant packets) and will pull and absorb the water from the desiccant packets. Do not place desiccant packets inside containers of lye.
Lye should be stored in air-tight plastic containers. The containers should be labeled to indicate the potential danger of the contents and stored away from children, pets, heat, and moisture. [http://www.certified-lye.com/safety.html Lye Safety Precautions] ]
Sodium hydroxide, caustic soda
Potassium hydroxide, caustic potash
Sodium carbonate, soda ash
Urine, chamber lye
Fight Club (film)
# cite book
last = McDaniel
first = Robert
title = The Elegant Art of Handmade So
publisher = Krause Publications
location = Iola, WI
date = 1997
isbn = 0873418328
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