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Cheaper ways to make lye

  1. Feb 1, 2007 #1
    Not everybody has access to Sodium hydroxide lye and not everyone can afford brewing barrels and all the other **** they tell you to get for making woodash lye so I was wondering what the cheaper alternatives are.

    I found this method where he just adds the ash to a pot of rain water and boils it for a while then strains it through a cloth to make a liquid lye solution.
    http://www.stevesartstuff.co.uk/making_lye.htm

    I was wondering if that liquid lye would be strong enough to use for making soap. Obviously considering you need more potassium hydroxide than sodium hydroxide and the fact this potassium hydroxide is diluted with water youd have to use a load of this stuff but would it work?

    Could you produce the same quality soap as that made with Sodium hydroxide or powder potassium hydroxide?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2007 #2

    chemisttree

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    That is exactly how soap used to be made. There is a discussion in one of the early Foxfire series of books. The process you described was called "dripping lye". (sometimes spelled "drippin' ")

    Hardwoods make the best lye, I've heard.
     
  4. Feb 2, 2007 #3
    Cool. Then im gonna get started. Would snow work as well as rain water? Im talking city snow so it wouldnt be the cleanest.
     
  5. Feb 5, 2007 #4

    chemisttree

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    What might city snow it be contaminated with? Ash? Soot?
    Consider your total process...

    If you use a lot of water, you will make a very dilute solution of lye. You can still make soap out of it if you are willing to boil down the water until it is fairly concentrated. The details of how concentrated to make the lye are discussed in the Foxfire book I mentioned.
     
  6. Feb 5, 2007 #5
    Well for example I filled a bucket with the cleanest looking snow I could see and when I looked in the bucket yesterday after it had melted there was all dirt at the bottom and a cigarette butt floating in it.

    Im gonna have to come up with a better way of getting water. I might just buy demineralized water in the pharmacy.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2007 #6

    chemisttree

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    Absolutely avoid the cigarette butt tea!
     
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