Sodium hydroxide or Lye has a chemical symbol of NaOH and is also called lye or caustic soda. It is a very strong alkali and used quite often during chemical manufacturing processes. When chlorine is produced, sodium hydroxide is created as a byproduct. Sodium hydroxide can also be added in foods at concentrations lower than or equal to one percent. It is commonly used as a ph adjuster.
Sodium Hydroxide is increasingly being used in the home for DIY applications such as in the making of soap and detergent.
Why is Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium hydroxide is very corrosive and is capable of damaging the skin when it touches it. Children are also most vulnerable to the effects of this chemical and should be stored in a child safe cupboard or container.
Skin and Eye Irritation
Those who work in factories that use sodium hydroxide usually have to put on protective gears to prevent it from causing eye and skin irritation. Whether in the solution or solid form, the CDC- U.S. Centers for Disease Control has stated that those regularly exposed to sodium hydroxide can suffer eye damage.
Its toxicity has forced OSHA- Occupational Safety & Health Administration- to create guidelines to state the limits that workers should be exposed to. Those that work in factories that are exposed to sodium hydroxide have to follow the guidelines on OSHA’s website to use sodium hydroxide safely.
Sodium Hydroxide is stated to not have any effects
How Does It End Up In Product
Since sodium hydroxide doesn’t occur naturally in products, it comes in contact with products by the manufacturers using it. Sodium hydroxide is used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, in the food industry to remove the skins from foods like potatoes. Sodium hydroxide is also used to cure olives or turning dried corn into hominy.
Sodium hydroxide can also be added to carrageenan to increase the creaminess of ice cream to increase the thickness of it. It can also be used to aid in the making of pretzels, chocolate, ramen noodles, and even caramel coloring.
Sodium hydroxide is used to make real bar soaps. The sodium hydroxide breaks down when oil is added in the soap making process and it is changed to what we know as soap.
Where is it found
In the pharmaceutical industry, sodium hydroxide is used a lot in making medical products from anticoagulants to pain relievers. Sodium hydroxide is found in many household chemicals such as drain and oven cleaners.
Just like chlorine is used in treating water, sodium hydroxide is used in water treatment plants, in a bid to curtail the level of acidity in the water. It can also rid any form of heavy metal in the water before it is pumped to homes for usage.
The compound is also used in making water disinfectant, sodium hypochlorite.
Sodium hydroxide is used as an additive in foods and can be used to cure olives and other foods.
In pretzels, it gives it its brownish hue and crunchy feel. That’s not all. Sodium hydroxide can be used in removing the skins from fruits like tomatoes. When mold wants to prevented in canned food, sodium hydroxide is used too.
How Can You Recognize Sodium Hydroxide on Labels?
Food that is processed and has sodium hydroxide is sometimes listed on the label. However, products processed with it might not have it on the label since it is not technically an ingredient.