44% lye solution won't dissolve

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Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2016
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North Carolina
Today I attempted Auntie Clara's ghost swirl, and in mixing the low water portion I had trouble getting the caustic dissolved into the water for the 44% lye concentration. That portion of the batter in my recipe called for 144.51 g of water and 113.55 g of NaOH.
No matter what I did, there were still bits of lye flakes swimming around in the water. Stir, stir, stir, stir (10 minutes of this) - no dice.
Warmed it up in a hot water bath, stir, stir, stir - no dice.
Diluted with 10 more g of water (figured I could still attempt the swirl with a 42% solution) - still had undissolved lye.
At this point I figured I must have measured wrong, so I diluted with lots of water and threw it down the drain, and started over.
And had the same problem with undissolved lye.
Finally, I just strained out the lye bits and carried on with the recipe. Only time will tell how that will work out.
Is there a trick to dealing with higher concentration lye? Has my lye "gone bad?"
Thanks Susie, but it wasn't floating. The bits were all throughout. In both batches, the solution was sitting on the counter cooling for some time before I got around to working with it, and had crusted over. It was that crust that never went back into solution as I stirred.
I've used 100 water and 100g lye and found you have to stir it constantly from the minute you put the lye in. It will separate out again if left so keep stirring until it cools.

I put more of the reserved water in now because it's more forgiving. I don't like straining bits out because it's too random for me. It's part of the reason I don't like master batching either because it settles out.
It is most likely soda ash (sodium carbonate) which happens when air hits the solution, and is harmless. You can strain the solution or dump it in. Undissolved lye will be on the bottom. NaOH is soluble up to 50% which is how my make my masterbatch lye solution (1:1). I will mention that I do not have to stir my 50/50 until it cools, but it does need to be stirred longer than a lower percentage solution
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Did you use distilled water? No other additives?
Yes, it was distilled water, no additives to the lye water.
Thanks to you all for your thoughts on this. I was pretty sure that what I had must be harmless because the concentration was no where near saturation, but since I'd never seen it before, thought I'd better strain it out just to be safe.
Next time I'll stir continuously.
I masterbatch at 50% and have never had my lye seperate either. I stir till its disolved and then leave it to cool, usually overnight. I get a bit of lye lint on the top but just strain it off when putting in my storage container.