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Cast Iron Cleaning and Seasoning Help With and Tips & Techniques For Cast Iron Cookware Restoration

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Old 01-03-2015, 04:49 PM
John E John E is offline
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Location: NC
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Default Lye paste

I haven't had a lye tank for a while now since the last one sprung a leak all over the floor of my garage. I've been using pure electro since, but I'd like to have lye around as an option for the really caked up pieces that take forever in the electro. I still have a bunch of lye, so I'm considering making it into a paste with something like cornstarch and water, and then rubbing this onto the piece and sticking in a trash bag like the oven cleaner method. I figure this would work out to be cheaper than buying oven cleaner, especially since I already have some lye, and it can't leak like my old setup.

The only thing I can think of is to be extra careful adding the lye to the water, and make sure not to get it too strong and get the reaction to produce too much heat at first. There will be goggles and gloves and long clothing

Anyone ever tried something like this?

[SIZE=1]---------- Post added at 04:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:32 PM ----------[/SIZE]

Continuing to think out loud...

The usual 1 lb of lye to 5 gal of water ratio for a lye bath works out to about 0.7 grams of lye per ounce of water. I figure with 3-4 oz of water you could make enough paste to coat a piece, which uses only 2-3 grams of lye.

This sounds promising to me.
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:56 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: Lye paste

Not making any recommendations here, but if you Google "cornstarch and lye", you get a lot of results for making homebrew paint remover. Hopefully, any caveats will be contained therein.
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Old 01-03-2015, 05:16 PM
DavidR DavidR is offline
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Location: Fairfax Va
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Default Re: Lye paste

Well, I have never worked directly with lye. But chemically speaking... you would be working with concentrations that would be very high - so any and every precaution you can take should be taken. Secondly, something air tight would be in order because CO2 plus NaOH will make NaHCO3, a basic salt plus water - so a paste - exposed to air will absorb co2 and add more water to the paste - and become more liquid. You should be prepared for leaks from the plastic bag at high, caustic, concentrations of lye.
BUT - it could be dangerous to make this air tight - because there are many reactants with lye that create gases. Especially hydrogen gas. You really don't want a paste of lye to go boom, or even just a pop would be bad enough -
So I'm calling this a really bad, chemically dangerous, Darwin award kind of idea.
Others may have different opinions, and it may even work very quickly cleaning the pan for you.
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Old 01-03-2015, 06:44 PM
John E John E is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: NC
Posts: 402
Default Re: Lye paste

I'm gonna give it a try at the same concentrations as the typical lye bath, on my rainy day #12 from over here -

Stay tuned. If I don't report back in a few days, you can assume I've created a small thermonuclear explosion

[SIZE=1]---------- Post added at 06:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:29 PM ----------[/SIZE]

The deed is done, and I have survived. I'll check in a few days and see how effective it was. Seemed to start working right away.
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Old 01-04-2015, 05:15 PM
John E John E is offline
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Default Re: Lye paste

Just checked after 24 hours. It worked a bit, but at the concentration I used it was less effective than oven spray. Maybe a stronger paste would work better, but for now I just scrubbed it down to get the lye off and I'll toss it in the e-tank to finish.
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:58 PM
KevinE KevinE is offline
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Location: Columbia, SC
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Default Re: Lye paste

Easy Off has other things in it besides the lye (ethanol and ethanolamine) which probably have a synergistic effect to help penetrate/dissolve the built up seasoning.
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