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#1
Old 09-13-2006, 03:04 AM
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Lye, Bleach, Chemicals for cleaning

What's the diff? I remember reading of 'lye soaked hands' and lye is used in soap. Which feels counterintuintive.

Tonight I was scrubbing the tub using the same ol cartoony bubbles stuff and rinsed and rinsed. And rinsed. I know that bathroom chemicals can cause not so funny explosions.

Then used bleach a bit.

And was wondering.

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#2
Old 09-13-2006, 03:19 AM
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When lye (sodium hydroxide) is used to make soap it is combined with fat, which is acidic. A proper balance of lye and fat produces soap with a pH of 7, which is neither basic nor acidic.

I've never heard of using straight lye for cleaning. The stuff is dangerous - you can get severe chemical burns. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is much safer than lye.
#3
Old 09-13-2006, 03:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lichtman
When lye (sodium hydroxide) is used to make soap it is combined with fat, which is acidic. A proper balance of lye and fat produces soap with a pH of 7, which is neither basic nor acidic.

I've never heard of using straight lye for cleaning. The stuff is dangerous - you can get severe chemical burns. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is much safer than lye.
I'm probably thinking of old stories like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" type tales.

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#4
Old 09-13-2006, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lichtman
I've never heard of using straight lye for cleaning. The stuff is dangerous - you can get severe chemical burns. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is much safer than lye.
It's used as oven cleaner simply because it's really good at shifting baked-on grease (because it saponificates the crap out of it). You exercise all kinds of care in using it, naturally. I've also seen potassium hydroxide sold for the same purpose - same warnings apply.
#5
Old 09-13-2006, 08:44 AM
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Lye is used in oven cleaners and drain openers, with the idea that it will combine with the grease and wash it away. But if you've ever seen a drain stopped up with the soap made by the combination of the grease and drain cleaner, you will never use it again.

Try using baking soda instead. Safer, greener, and works just as well. If lye doesn't unclog your drain, you've got a real mess of a problem, and you'll have to pay the plumber more.
#6
Old 09-13-2006, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Try using baking soda instead. Safer, greener, and works just as well. If lye doesn't unclog your drain, you've got a real mess of a problem, and you'll have to pay the plumber more.
Another thing that often works is to pour some dishwasher detergent down the drain followed by a big pot of boiling water.
#7
Old 09-13-2006, 07:49 PM
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My father, who had a doctorate in chemistry and some personal experience with chemical burns, wouldn't allow lye in the house for any purpose. He said there was nothing it could possibly do that was worth risking the horrible injuries it can cause.

Bleach is fine, as long as you don't get it in your eyes or (VERY important) mix it with anything containing ammonia. Bleach + ammonia --> chlorine gas, just like they used in World War I.

As for bathtubs, if it's porcelain, try cleanser (Comet or equivalent). If it's fiberglas or something else that scratches easily, I don't know.
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Old 09-14-2006, 04:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryobserver
My father, who had a doctorate in chemistry and some personal experience with chemical burns, wouldn't allow lye in the house for any purpose. He said there was nothing it could possibly do that was worth risking the horrible injuries it can cause.
Absolutely. It turns fat into soap, and has no objection whatever to working on fat that is still alive, and will penetrate through the newly-made soap in search of more fat. Not pretty.
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Old 09-14-2006, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malacandra
Absolutely. It turns fat into soap, and has no objection whatever to working on fat that is still alive, and will penetrate through the newly-made soap in search of more fat. Not pretty.

I just recently watched the movie The Machinist starring Christian Bale and there was a scene where he washed his hands with lye. I cringed. He suffered no burns. WTF?
I remember in high school chemistry our teacher telling us horrors of lye related mishaps that occured to fellow students in college. :::shudder::::
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#10
Old 09-14-2006, 08:59 AM
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Nice part about a movie is that they can say or do anything they want regardless of whether it's possible in the real world.
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#11
Old 09-14-2006, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryobserver
As for bathtubs, if it's porcelain, try cleanser (Comet or equivalent). If it's fiberglas or something else that scratches easily, I don't know.

For fiberglass a paste of baking soda and soap works fine.
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