Food Grade vs Tech Sodium-Hydroxide

by Cuqui

Recently I purchased Sodium-Hydroxide-Lye-Tech-Grade.


It was cheaper than the food grade, although it states that both can be used for soap making I notice a difference in the outcome of my soaps.

I don’t know what is causing the difference. My soaps lack fragrance that I add and the smell is horrible when I try to make goat or coconut milk soap.

Can you tell me if there is a difference in calculations when using the tech grade vs. food grade?

I purchased them from Essential Depot. Previously I used Rooto® Crystals of Household Lye purchased @ ACE Hardware.

Answer:

Hi Cuqui...I've moved your question from "Making Mango Butter" to it's own place.

I've never heard of having to use different calculations when using tech grade lye but then again I've only ever used food grade.

Soap makers tend to buy the food grade for the most part and I feel it to be better. My thoughts are that tech grade probably contains impurities that could have adverse effects in the soap making process...not sure about this of course...I'm simply guessing.

Good luck,
Cathy

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inspiration
by: Bill_the_baker

Hello everyone, well i have a bunch of left over lye and i wanted to make some soap with it, a nice square bar would be sufficient but i wanna put a bit of creativity in my soap, anyone have any good recipes or ideas that might inspire me?

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sodium hydroxide in Costa Rica
by: Karen

Does anyone know where or how I can get food grade sodium hydroxide in Costa Rica. Thank you!

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Tech vs. Food on smell
by: David

I make all my soap with Technical grade Lye. It comes out smelling fine when I use distilled water and Fragrance or Essential oils. I made Coffee soap with coffee instead of the distilled water for the lye solution. It was rather stinky and smelled burned. I tried to mask it with some vanilla and now it smells like chocolate... But given that experience, I've concluded that the lye reaction and heat actually burned the coffee (should have let it cool more after brewing) and my guess is the lye reaction might be burning your milk and causing the stink. This is a guess though, I've personally never made milk soap yet. But I doubt you should blame the stench on the grade of lye.

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side note
by: beth

David...brew your coffee cold process. I only drink iced coffee so I use a French press with cold water in the fridge. It keeps it from getting bitter that way. So, cold brew your coffee then there should be no problem with it burning. Hope this helps!

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Technical Grade Lye
by: Anonymous

I prefer food grade. The impurities in the technical grade are metals. What kind and how much are not told. I found this out by calling a well know household supplier of lye and they told me that.

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My Two Cents
by: Mara

I've used both technical grade and food grade lye and all my soaps are fine. The real question I have is are you freezing you milks before adding the lye to them? That's one of two ways you can avoid burning your milks. The other way is by doing the 50/50 method, which means diluting your lye in the same amount of water (by weight) so you have 1 part lye and 1 part water. the rest of the recipe's liquid, if milk is used, is added to your oils.

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No problems with lye
by: Anonymous

I've been making soap for almost 20 years and have been using the lye I purchase in the hardware store. I' ve never had a problem with it and soaps are famous for their excellent quality and good smell. I think this food grade v. tech grade is bull. Lye is lye, 100% sodiem hydroxide. Call it "food grade", but it's still the same thing.

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Different grades are different txicity, NOT ALL GRADES ARE THE SAME
by: Mrs Somerset

Hi,
I saw the previous post where the comment was made that "all grades are the same and calling something food grade was nonesense" and had to post as that is really wrong and very dangerous.

I am a biochemist, working for over 20 years, so know what I am about to post is accurate

There are different grades if chemicals - why? because of the way they are manufactured and because they are used in different ways and mainly because of the cost.

Making a PURE 100% chemical is often difficult, very expensive and sometimes ust plain impossible.

Here are the standard grading for chemicals;

1. Technical Grade - this is the lowest grade, often used purely for cleaning purposes, wither at home or in the lab.

2. Laboratory grade - this is a good quality chemical, with known or UNKNOWN contaminants at a % dictated by its use, the contaminants are most likely hazardous ( because extracting carcinogens and heavy metals is expensive to do and these contaminants will not affect most basic experiments)

3. Food Grade - this is a High grade chemical, it may have contaminants, but none that are hazardous to health, has been certified and approved by your countires health organisation as safe to consume at certain amounts ( so beware, if you buy these from another ountry, the types and levels of contaminants may differ from those permitted in your country, sometimes significantly - e.g. Lead is TBC

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NOT all Grades are the same part 2
by: Mrs Somerset

for example lead is permissible in food in China.

4. AR grade, that is Assay and Research grade, this is usually the highest purity, and the most expensive, although it may still not be 100% pure and may contain contaminants that are hazardous to human health - it simply means it is pure enough to use in chemical assay and medical research, which could be on rats - the manufacturers will only spend enough effort to make it pure enough for its main scientific use in AR, so do not assume you can simply buy AR grade and it is safe to touch or eat.

In the UK, not all medecines comply to food grade, for example a food colouring that has been banned for its carcinogenic purposes, has been permitted to be used in medecines - the reasoning behindthat awful devision is that it is much cheaper than natural yellow colouring, and it would be unusual (not impossible) to expect the patient to consume large amounts of the medication.

So - the long and short of it is, that food grade is the only grade that can be considered to be safe for consumption, but again that excludes any intolerance's or allergies, and does not take into account any further chemical processing during the use - i.e. in soap making.

You can use a grade lower than food grade of sodium hydroxide for soap making due to the process that sodium Hydroxide is undergoing, and the finished product should not have leached any small amounts of impurities, however a technical grade should never be used for anything other than cleaning, as it contains some pretty awful contaminants from simple toxins like mercury to radioactive materials.

Often it can be difficult to obtain data from the manufacturer regarding the exact composition of the impurities - their reply is usually " just buy the AR grade if you are concerned" - and for work that is great, but at home when soapmaking, or bagels and preztels - it is of no use to me at all, as I know that for those purposed I would only use food grade, even if it is more expensive :-)

I hope this is useful. Please do be careful when using strong chemicals, and that includes conc. essential oils ;0)



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