What is lye?

   Lye is a term used for a type of very strong alkali. Its chemical name is sodium hydroxide. Lye as a chemical has many uses. Its white powder destroys waste by its ability to eat organic material. It is used in the making of hard soap and textiles, in tanning LEATHER, in refining petroleum, and in the canning industry.
   Lye is soluble in water and is a good conductor of electricity. It neutralizes acids and can turn litmus paper blue. It can dissolve wool but not cotton.
Lye is very injurious to skin, and actual contact with it must be avoided because of its caustic, or burning, nature.
   The chemical formula for lye is NaOH. Lye is manufactured from calcium hydroxide and sodium carbonate reacting to form sodium hydroxide (lye) and calcium carbonate.