Lye cleanup

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tmmorrow

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Random question, I use the granular lye and I've noticed that after mixing the lye to the water that the steam leaves a lye residue. My spoon and dye dish (the one I weigh it in) are caked in dried up, and somewhat dissolved lye. How do I clean this? Or should I just chuck the dish and measuring spoon? Any help is really appreciated
 

DeeAnna

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Just rinse the utensils and containers well with water and then wash as usual. Should be a pretty easy cleanup. I wouldn't throw them away!

What you're seeing is either NaOH or -- much more likely -- soda ash (washing soda) which is what NaOH turns into when it reacts with carbon dioxide in the air.
 

tmmorrow

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Thank you so much, some of it is ashy and other parts are like hunks. I wasn't sure if it was safe to wash with regular tap water. Thank you
 

DeeAnna

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If there's any question in your mind if the residue is active lye or not, I'd err on the side of safety and assume it is. Wear gloves and eye protection, and rinse well with plenty of cold water until all the residue is down the drain. Then wash as usual. Hope this helps!
 

littlemissjellyfish

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I read that Vinegar neutralizes lye. I set all my utensils, bowls, etc. in a tub of vinegar/water and wash everything else down with the same solution.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Vinegar DOES do it - but too much so. It's like adding baking powder to vinegar or to water in that the reaction takes place with water just more slowly than with vinegar.

Many people on YouTube etc suggest having vinegar on hand for spills, but it reacts so intensely with the lye that it generates a great deal of heat. If you put that on a lye spill on your skin, you'll get a thermal burn, and a nasty one at that. Just rinse the lye off with cold running water and that will do.
 

DeeAnna

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^^^^ What The Gent said!

Just so you know, it takes a lot more vinegar to neutralize NaOH than you might think -- about 1 ounce of 5% commercial vinegar will only neutralize about 1 gram of NaOH. So if it makes you feel better to rinse/wash your utensils and work area with vinegar, that's fine, but you will get the most benefit by using a generous amount of full strength vinegar.

Just to make sure there's no confusion -- cleaning your work area and utensils with vinegar is NOT the same as first aid for an alkali (NaOH or KOH) spill on your body.

Never, NEVER use vinegar or other acid to neutralize NaOH or KOH on the skin. Use cold water and plenty of it. Seconds count, so if you have to rinse in a mud puddle because there's no other water close by, then do it.

More: http://classicbells.com/soap/lyeFirstAid.html
 

Gerry

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I used to be so scared of lye. Watching the movie Fight Club is after all what got me into soap making to begin with. It seemed very dangerous and done by "bad boys" who were into naughty things... so I was like "I gotta try this!".

I remember either reading or seeing something on the Internet for keeping vinegar on hand for neutralizing lye spills on skin, but can't find it now. Bad idea. Not only does the reaction cause heat, but imagine putting vinegar on a wound (caused by lye or anything else)? Yikes! If in doubt, go by what the MSDS says about handling lye.

I save my precious vinegar for making pickles and infusions. Using water and then soapy cloth for cleaning up your work space is fine in my opinion. My utensils and bowls that have been in contact with lye water simply go into the dishwasher.
 

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