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Lye Acrobatics


topofmurrayhill
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I just had a freaky and unnerving experience with some sodium hydroxide.

I got the stuff from Bramble Berry since I was buying a few oils and stuff from there. I guess I was expecting larger cystals. These weren't even as big as granulated sugar. More like salt.

Dunno if it was static electricity or moisture in the air, but the moment I opened the container the lye crystals started repelling each other and popping out of the container and sticking to the outside. I tried measuring some into a plastic cup on the scale and the same thing started to happen. All I had to do was touch the cup with my gloved fingers and lye crystals would fly out of it by themselves. Now they're sprinkled across the work surface and on the floor.

I carefully put the sodium hydroxide container into a food storage bag and sealed it. I think I have to get some other form of lye because these tiny crystals are scary to work with. Can someone suggest a safe way to clean up what spilled? It did a good job of scattering itself around.

Also I'm curious if anyone has run into this before.

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Wipe the outside of the container it's in with a dryer sheet, and then the inside and outside of the container into which you are measuring it. Same with any utensils you will be using with the dry lye.

When I measure it I put the scale and all right down into the sink. Barring that I spread out a terry cloth bath towel so I can gather it up and toss the whole thing into the washing machine.

You should probably wipe your gloves too. Frankly that was a challenge for me so I now measure the lye bare-handed and put them on after I've poured the lye into the water. Your skin can handle it for a few seconds unless you are sweaty.

Clean the floor with a vacuum - you can sweep the stuff off the counters off with a whisk-broom. You might want to spritz with vinegar to take care of any escapees.

ETA: shea butter is amazing on lye burns. wash the spot really well and just put the shea right on it.

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Lol Scented, my first thought for the thread title was Mexican Jumping Lye.

Carebear, thanks for the good advice!

Seriously, even apart from spillage I don't know if this lye would have been usable for me. The humidity is up a little today but not that much, yet all these tiny crystals began to liquefy once they came out of the container. The ones I poured out caked together and stuck in the cup pretty quick. The ones that spilled will have to get wiped up because they're pretty much droplets now.

How about the sodium hydroxide from The Chemistry Store? Is it more on the coarse side?

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I do mine the same way Carebear does, wipe with a dryer sheet and put the scale into the sink. I have used 3-4 different brands of lye and all of the ones I've used have been the salt consistancy. I do know too that it will attract moisture pretty fast and clump up, and last time I soaped I ended up with a layer of hard undisolved lye in the bottom of my pitcher (course I didn't realize that until I had poured the stuff into my 4 pounds of melted oils which did not make me a happy soaper that day)

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I used to have the problem of lye jumping everywhere, that's when I started to weigh it into the water instead of an empty container. I've been told that this isn't a good idea because I could dump too much into the water. As long as I know how much lye is in the water, I can change my recipe to compensate. I've never needed to.

Another way to contain the jumpy pieces is to lay down damp newspaper, then set the scale on that. If the lye jumps out it lands on the newspaper and soaks in. Then just throw away the newspaper.

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Another way to contain the jumpy pieces is to lay down damp newspaper, then set the scale on that. If the lye jumps out it lands on the newspaper and soaks in. Then just throw away the newspaper.

Thanks, I cleared a good sized flat space and tried that. It seemed more appealing than weighing in the sink. I used wet paper towels and sure enough there was an area near the scale that started to yellow and got a little warm.

I'll use what I have so I don't have to figure out how to dispose of it, but if anyone can recommend a supplier of lye that doesn't have such a fine consistency, I'd appreciate the tip. This stuff I've got just flies around like mad.

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I buy in bulk, but use a pitcher with a pop up lid to store some so I don't have to deal with a big bag of lye when I want to soap. The pitcher only allows a small stream to come out as I am measuring. I use a cylinder shaped container to pour into on the scale while I am weighing. Since the opening is small I can cover the top with my gloved hand while I am pouring. Since I have been using this method I haven't had any lye acrobats escape while pouring at all. With my old method I had the crystals go everywhere while pouring.

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