Is Caustic Soda The Same As Lye?

Caustic soda and lye are common names for sodium hydroxide. The term caustic soda comes from the chemical name and because it is a corrosive substance. Pure caustic soda, or lye, is a white and waxy solid. It will quickly absorb any water to form aqueous solutions. The commercial form of this substance is different from the pure gorm in that it is usually already mixed with water to form sodium hydroxide monohydrate.

How to get Lye / Caustic Soda

Previously, obtaining lye was relatively easy. There was a product which no longer exists called Red Devil Lye that was widely available. Since lye is used to control the pH when producing methamphetamine production, it is much more closely monitored than it used to be. However, it is still possible to obtain the chemical. When doing so, buyers should ensure that why they are buying is pure sodium hydroxide/lye/caustic soda. This is important when using caustic soda for paint stripping as an impure product may not have the desired effect.

Bear in mind that purchasers of lye or caustic soda may have to sign a declaration that states the substance will not be used for illegal activities. However, this is not always the case since paying by credit card allows the authorities to find you if they suspect you are not using your caustic soda for paint stripping and are in fact, starting a local drug trade.

Useful Tips

Buying caustic soda or lye is relatively difficult so it is better to buy in bulk. To make the cost more bearable, consider finding others who also need to purchase it and then split the cost. It is not terribly expensive but it unlikely that you will need several kilograms of it. Remember that caustic soda reacts very quickly with water so keep the container sealed and stored in a dry space. Also, make sure it is stored out of reach of children or animals since lye or caustic soda can cause severe chemical burns. Use gloves when handling lye and make sure that any work you perform with it is carried out in a well-ventilated environment.

Possible Substitutes

Sometimes, you can substitute potassium hydroxide for caustic soda. You can even make some yourself by soaking a large amount of ash in a small volume of water. After about a week, the water will have extracted the lye from the ashes. The liquid can be drained and boiled to increase potassium hydroxide concentration.

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