Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Quest for Lye: Please DO NOT use Drano!

Good old sodium hydroxide! Veteran soap makers know that in order to make scrumptious cold process soap, you must include lye in your recipe. But, because lye is a highly reactive chemical and is also commonly used in meth labs, it is near impossible to find unless of course you have a friendly neighbour who happens to be a chemist! If you happen to find lye online, you will find that most companies will not ship it due to it's reactive properties.

Lye is a common ingredient in many household drain cleaners. If you check the active ingredients on your 'Drano' bottle, you'll see sodium hydroxide listed. DO NOT use 'Drano'! In order for your soap to be successful, you need to use PURE sodium hydroxide. 'Drano' also contains other chemicals and aluminum shavings that will harm your skin and perhaps will cause a different chemical reaction in your soap recipe.

So, where can you find lye?

Most soap makers will tell you to simply run to your local hardware store, but in my experience most hardware stores do not carry pure lye.

If you are a proud Canadian soap maker like myself, heed my words: I have been to 'Home Depot', I have been to 'Lowe's', I have been to 'Rona'. They do not carry any such product that is pure lye, and furthermore they usually cannot even tell you what it is! At least in Canada... specifically, Toronto. However, you can find it at 'Home Hardware'. I know... I would think a big box store like 'Home Depot' would carry it over our tiny neighbourhood chain. 'Home Hardware' carries only a few bottles at a time and it is made by a company called 'Gillett's'. The label clearly says 'Gillett's 100% Lye'. This brand, I've heard, can also be found in some IGA stores across Canada.

If you live in the Huntsville, Ontario area, there is a company called 'Canwax' that carries sodium hydroxide. They used to be located in Mississauga, but have recently relocated to cottage county. You can find their address here: www.canwax.com . I believe they only offer local pickup for their sodium hydroxide, but carry excellent soaping supplies at great prices.

I know most of you American soap makers used to use a brand called 'Red Devil', but it is no longer on the market. I've heard that you can buy lye from 'Home Depot' and 'Lowe's' in the states. I've also heard from fellow soap makers that you can find it at 'Ace Hardware' and even 'Wal-Mart'. I know 'Backyard Style' carries a brand of lye called 'Robic'.

I invite any soap makers who have experience buying and using lye to comment about the brand they use and where they buy it, as this can be the most difficult ingredient to find when creating cold process soap. Please also state your location.

I hope this information helped my fellow crafters get an idea of where to buy your soap making lye. As always, happy crafting!

P.S. Do NOT use 'Drano'!!!

28 comments:

  1. Home Hardware in small towns in Manitoba and Northwestern Ont. carries their own brand Home lye crystals in a 3kg bottle for $25-29.

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  2. Supraveni Chemicals manufactures plenty of chemical products like sodium sulphate, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, barium sulphate & sodium hydroxide, for more details visit http://www.supravenichemicals.com/

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  3. This is an older post, but to update from the U.S.:

    You can no longer by lye at Home Depot's or Lowe's. You CAN get it at Ace Hardware in San Diego county, California. But I haven't been able to find it anywhere else except that one store.

    You can order it from The Soap Dish. You have to order at least one other soap supply and you can only order 3 containers at a time. They will only ship Ground via UPS. I don't know if they will ship to Canada, but it might be worth checking out.

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  4. Try Ebay folks you can get lye on Ebay.com or Ebay.ca.

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  5. I get my Lye from www.Essentialdepot.com . their Lye is excellent quality and nicely priced, and if you use the code "ship30" you receive an additional 30% off shipping!

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    Replies
    1. Great, thanks Bill, but they do not ship to Canada!

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    2. Yes they do ship to Canukia. I ordered 32 lbs of KOH, and it was delivered to my door in Toronto. They have an arrangement with our customs as well as our Government

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  6. Essential Depot is offering the first 300 customers a very special deal of only $2.94 for 2 lbs. of High Quality Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads. Grab yours today by clicking on this link:
    http://www.essentialdepot.com/servlet/the-2/2-lbs-Food-Grade/Detail

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  7. hey everyone, im just stoppin in again to remind everybody to check out Essential Depot ( www.essentialdepot.com ) they're selling High quality food grade Lye, 2lb's for 3.44

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  8. Essential Depot has cheap products but expensive shipping to Canada. It would have cost me over $40 to ship a few bottles (I live near Toronto).

    The good news is that Canwax is now shipping lye (but in 1kg containers only) and their shipping rates are much better. I get my oils from them as well.

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  9. Lye is pretty basic to make at home. No weird equipment is involved... Just rainwater, wood ashes and a wooden barrel.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Lye

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  10. Montreal quebec, store on mount-royal near saint-denis called Bella pella. So far the only place i have found!!!! 1kg 19.99$ plus our 14% tax. :) good luck. Made a batch today.

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    1. ^^
      Wow thanks a lot, I live in Montreal , and I've been searching for pure Lye for a long long time. I'm going there tomorrow :)

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    2. Thanks sooo much for this info!! I live right around the corner from there and have been looking for lye a long long time. Great!

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    3. I am new in this...can someone explain to me why high quality lye from ess.depot cost around $7,- / kg and in MTL Saint-Denis 19.99 / kg? Thank you....

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  11. The chemical compound is prepared by dissolving Barium Oxide in water
    Barium Hydroxide Manufacturers India
    This results in a Barium Octahydrate that can be converted to Monohydrate upon heating in air

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  12. Go see www.saffireblue.ca ... lye is at $7.81 a kilo. Based in Ontario.

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  13. A store on Bank Street in Downtown Ottawa called Planet Botanix has sodium hydroxide, http://www.planetbotanix.com/ I paid $7.95 for 600grams. They also have other items to make soap with, they carry some oils, herbs etc. They will order items for you also.

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  14. Just buy it from canadian tire, jesus.

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    Replies
    1. Canadian Tire no longer carry it either...

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  15. Excellent post! I must thank you for this informative read. I hope you will post again soon.Kind regard Barium Hydroxide Manufacturers

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  16. Thank you for providing clear information on this. you can also refer Barium Hydroxide Manufacturers.

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  17. i live an hour south of huntsville, in minden. i went to my local Home Hardware.

    for $23, i now have in front of me a jug labelled 100% sodium hydroxide.

    it was as easy as walking over to the shelf and putting it in my cart.

    if you buy lye from Canwax, they will only ship it by courier as Canada Post will not handle hazardous materials.

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    1. btw: it's a 3-freakin-kilo jug of the stuff. i've used it to unstop the basement bathroom sink, wash the cement floor after pet accidents, make several batches of soap, and i think i'm going to try pretzels next (the label specifically says it's safe to use for cleaning milking equipment and containers, so it should be safe enough).

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    2. But is it "Food Safe" for those pretzels threnorns????

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    3. There is Food Safe Hydroxide and the other Sodium Hydroxide used for cleaning and soap. Check Carefully!

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  18. Thank you very much for this post! Canwax is only 20 minutes from my location and I had no idea they existed.

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  19. In Canada try Home hardware...if they don't have it I'm sure they can order it for you. The numbers are 3226-432 ($6.99 for 500g) and 3226-431 (3KG for $22.99 AWESOME) that's how much they are in my neck of the woods :-) It says it's 100% pure lye but just to make sure, I checked the Home Hardware MSDS sheet and compared it to Essential Depot's "food grade" MSDS sheet and they both say 95-100% pure (links below)
    **Important note: The home hardware one says it comes in free flowing powder form - the Esential Depot comes in beads/pellets I believe. I'm not sure what texture would be better***

    http://www.essentialdepot.com/msds/NaOH_MSDS.pdf

    http://msds.homehardware.ca/OpenRepositoryFile.asp?s=133558&v=1

    Hope this helps :-)

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