What Is Lye?


Lye is the common name for sodium hydroxide, also called caustic soda. It is an alkaline substance, meaning it has a pH greater than seven.

Historical Production

  • Traditionally, lye was produced by pouring water through wood ashes as part of the soap-making process.


  • Lye is a white, solid material that can be broken down into flakes, pellets or powder. It is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air, and exothermic when dissolved in water, meaning it can produce heat.

Common Uses

  • Crafters still use lye for soap-making, and it also is found in chemical cleaning products such as drain cleaners. Food-grade lye is used to cure olives and lutefisk.


  • Use gloves, safety glasses and face masks when handling lye, and work with it in a well-ventilated area.


  • Lye is corrosive and can damage the eyes and skin. It is deadly if ingested in sufficient quantities. When lye is mixed with sugar, it produces carbon monoxide, a potentially fatal gas.

Related Searches


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Uses of Lye Soap

    Lye soap as made in early America was used for nearly every cleaning purpose from laundry to shampoo. Medicinally it was considered...

  • What Is Red Devil Lye?

    Red Devil Lye, also known as Lewis Red Devil Lye Drain Opener, was the trade name for a drain cleaner product sold...

  • How to Make Lye

    Lye is a caustic soda commonly made from ash. Lye is sodium hydroxide in solution and is used to make soap and...

  • How to Dispose of Carbon Dioxide From Wine Making

    Carbon dioxide emissions are an inevitable by-product of wine making. As the yeasts transform the sugar in the grapes into alcohol, they...

Related Searches

Check It Out

22 DIY Ways to Update Your Home on a Small Budget

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!