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Thread: Make Lye at Home from Wood Ash

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    Make Lye at Home from Wood Ash

    Handling chemicals is not an easy job and handling lye or sodium hydroxide is no better. If you are in the habit of making soaps at home, you would probably know how to handle lye solution, and maybe this is the right time for you to experiment making lye at home. Generally caustic soda that is bought in stores is sodium hydroxide, whereas what you make at home (with wood ash) will be caustic potash or potassium hydroxide, the alkali used by ancient people to make soaps.



    Benefits of making lye at home: First, you save money, and eliminate the costs of storage and transportation that you incur when you buy lye buy from stores. Second, you make something good out of an otherwise waste product like wood ash. Third, you grow brave enough to experiment with chemicals. Fourth, lye has a lot of uses, the foremost of which is soap making. Apart from all this, making lye is quite an interesting thing.

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    How to make lye at home: Lye can be made with your kitchen utensils and equipments. But ensure that you do not use them for other purposes after this experiment.

    1. Get the ingredients and equipments ready: You would need the following things to try your hand at making lye: two plastic buckets (a small one and a large one – the small one should fit into the large one in such a way that liquid from the small one drips slowly into the large one); some fresh ash from burning hard wood (you can even burn some hard wood to get this); gallons of rain water and a handful of straw.

    Now to the step-by-step process:

    2. Make a few holes in the small bucket. Better if the holes are tiny enough to allow only liquid stuff through. Check after you make holes by pouring some water through the bucket.

    3. Now set the small bucket inside the large bucket. See to it that there is some space between the base of the small bucket and the large one. This is important as liquid should drip through holes drop by drop and not smudge the bottom of the small bucket.

    4. Place the straw you have inside the small bucket and hide the holes with the straw. Lye water, when formed, will seep through the holes only through the straw. This would prevent other hard blocks of wood or ash from collecting directly into the large bucket.

    5. Now place the wood ash above the straw and pour cold water over it. Ensure that the ash is above the straw and not directly near the holes. The straw base will act as a filter and prevent wood ash from flowing down with water.

    6. As you pour the water slowly, you will see liquid lye dripping through the holes in the small bucket and getting collected in the large bucket.

    7. Once all the water is poured onto ash, repeat the process with the liquid collected in the large bucket. Pour the collected lye solution onto the wood ash (above the straw) once again. Repeat and recycle the lye solution at least three times. This is done to concentrate the lye solution.

    8. After repeating the process, you can collect the lye solution from the large bucket and store it in another plastic or wooden container and use it in soap making. Avoid metal utensils as it can result in increase in temperature of lye.

    9. Before storing lye, test its strength. In olden days, people tested lye with fresh egg. If a fresh egg floats near the surface of the solution with a little lye water above it, your lye is of right strength. If the same egg drowned, your lye lacks strength. If the egg floated above the solution, then it is too strong.

    10. If your lye lacks strength, add more wood ash and repeat the process with the same solution. If it is too strong, add water and check the strength with the egg again. You can keep adding water till you are certain that your lye is of the appropriate strength.

    Source http://sodium-hydroxide.com/make-lye...teps-to-follow

    Havnt tried this yet, but could be fun to do.

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    There is series of books called the " Foxfire Books " that inclued instructions like these on similar topics and other affairs of plain and simple living.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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