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Sodium Hydroxide - Sodium hydroxide in household products, Industrial uses of sodium hydroxide

water cleaners caustic drain

Sodium hydroxide, NaOH, also known as lye or caustic soda, is an extremely caustic (corrosive and damaging to human tissue) white solid that readily dissolves in water. Sodium hydroxide is used in the manufacture of soaps, rayon, and paper, in petroleum refining, and in homes as drain cleaners and oven cleaners. Sodium hydroxide is one of the strongest bases commonly used in industry. Solutions of sodium hydroxide in water are at the upper limit (most basic) of the pH scale. Sodium hydroxide is made by the electrolysis (passing an electric current through a solution) of solutions of sodium chloride (table salt) to produce sodium hydroxide and chlorine gas.


Two of the more common household products containing sodium hydroxide are drain cleaners and oven cleaners. When most pipes are clogged it is with a combination of fats and grease. Cleaners that contain sodium hydroxide (either as a solid or already dissolved in water) convert the fats to soap, which dissolves in water. In addition, when sodium hydroxide dissolves in water a great deal of heat is given off. This heat helps to melt the clog. Sodium hydroxide is very damaging to human tissue (especially eyes). If a large amount of solid drain cleaner is added to a clogged drain, the heat produced can actually boil the water, leading to a splash in the eyes of a solution caustic enough to cause blindness. Some drain cleaners also contain small pieces of aluminum metal. Aluminum reacts with sodium hydroxide in water to produce hydrogen gas. The bubbles of hydrogen gas help to agitate the mixture, helping to dislodge the clog.

Oven cleaners work by converting built up grease (fats and oils) into soap, which can then be dissolved and wiped off with a wet sponge.


Sodium hydroxide is used to neutralize acids and as a source of sodium ions for reactions that produce other sodium compounds. In petroleum refining it is used to neutralize and remove acids. The reaction of cellulose with sodium hydroxide is a key step in the manufacturing of rayon and cellophane.


Resources

Periodicals

"Corticosteroids Can't Counter Caustics," Science News vol. 138, p. 174, Sept. 15, 1990. "How Lye is Made and Some Uses," Countryside and Small Stock Journal Vol. 78, p. 37, March-April 1994.


Louis Gotlib

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Base

—A solution with a pH greater than seven, having a greater concentration of hydroxide ions (OH) than hydrogen ions (H+)

Caustic

—Damaging to human tissue.

pH scale

—A scale used to measure the acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of a substance. It ranges from 0 to 14, with pH's below seven being acidic and greater than 7 being basic (or alkaline). A pH of 7 is neutral. pH's less than 2 or greater than 12 can be caustic to human tissue.

Soluble

—Capable of being dissolved. Sugar is soluble in water.

Sodium Hypochlorite [next] [back] Sodium Chloride - Bonds, Location And Processing, Mining, Evaporation, Uses - Properties

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over 5 years ago

Thanks for the easy to understand material. It made my life a lot easier.

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almost 3 years ago

since 1 year i just covered my lips with sodium hydroxide due to great anger and now i am facing intensive problem , my lips took an abnormal shape and it dries up while talking. iam regretting a lot . now wat to do???? plz help me. :(

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about 2 years ago

How can one prevent coastic from damaging the tisue of human when in use at home?

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over 6 years ago



we just love this website since we are don a project on soap.

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over 6 years ago

hehe i just love chemistry especially my teacher the cobra

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about 2 years ago

How can one prevent coastic from damaging the tisue of human when in use at home?

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about 2 years ago

How can one prevent coastic from damaging the tisue of human when in use at home?

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over 2 years ago

thnk google hafs

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almost 3 years ago

doing proagenda on lye, so ty alot for this article, helped me

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almost 3 years ago

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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about 3 years ago

Absolutely perfect. This saves me a lot of trouble (I was about to waste time and money making the stuff myself with electrolysis!)

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over 3 years ago

thanx for this info but how is sodium hydoxide made?

:)

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over 3 years ago

this was very helpful and and interesting, Im in 9th grade honors and im doing a science fair project. Im going to produce hydrogen with caustic soda and aluminum(usa) or aluminium(not usa) anyways it was super helpful, just wish I could use it as a perioical

:(

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over 5 years ago

thanjs for the information i only have one question What is the industrial chemical process for sodium hydroxide?

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over 5 years ago

This helps a lot with my experiment. Thank you.

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almost 6 years ago

thanks google for this info

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over 1 year ago

Tristen was not here what so ever(:

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almost 2 years ago

this information was very useful and help with my biology home lesson with a question about sodium hydroxide