Boiling DranO = Bad Idea?

I need a source of lye for my next project, but I've learned recently that "Red Devil Lye" is getting phased out because of the "War on Drugs."

It is my understanding that sodium hydroxide is a main ingredient in Drano (5-10%), and so I'm trying to find out more information about what exactly is in Drano. (Would anything bad happen if I was to boil it?)

Oh, and I am referring to liquid Drano, by the way.

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guyfrom7up10 years ago
bit off topic but in science yesterday we mixed drano and sugar together and after like 5 minutes this black cylinder started to form (plus a LOT of heat). Might want to try it :)
We did that in 9th grade, its really cool stuff. :D
OMG, dude... that creates carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas!
westfw guyfrom7up10 years ago
Which KIND of drano? What you describe is one of the "classic" demonstrations done with sulfuric acid. I've seen at least one "concentrated drain cleaner" whose fine print claims that it is sulfuric acid, and I know for a fact that it IS strong enough to do this demo with sugar (do it outside, cause it smells like burnt sugar.) I'd be surprised if it worked with either the lye (sodium hydroxide) or bleach (sodium hypochlorite) varieties of drain cleaner. (I'm constantly surprised at some of the nasty chemicals you can buy SO easily under the guise of cleaners/etc, considering the disappearance of even mildly noxious substances from what now passes for "chemistry sets." Sigh.)
Goodhart westfw10 years ago
I know what you mean by access to noxious chemicals, but what worries me is the advertisements that do not warn about reading labels. CLR shows someone "safely" cleaning their coffee maker with it....>ACK....Danger Will Robin ! Not reading the label and following the instructions WILL lead to poisoning.
trebuchet0310 years ago
Drain cleaner is a VERY bad source for sodium hydroxide. The reason, drain cleaners that use that chemical also contain aluminum (tiny tiny specs of it).... which, when mixed with water (in your toilet/clogged drain) starts a chemical reaction (the super awesome drain cleaning action) :P

Here's what a small amount does:
http://www2.uni-siegen.de/~pci/versuche/english/v44-10.html

Which is why drain cleaner is just about the most dangerous chemical (reactively) you can have in your house :/


What exactly are you doing?
carbon (author)  trebuchet0310 years ago
Yep, figured that. I guess I'll have to find this fabled "chemical supply house" I keep getting referred to :P

You sure like smily's don't you? :P
carbon (author)  carbon10 years ago
Have you ever heard of the "golden penny" experiment? The idea is to strip some zinc off of a couple of "hot-dip" galvanised nails, let the zinc collect on a pre-1982 penny, and then heat it under a blow torch. (Zinc + Copper = Brass)
crestind carbon10 years ago
I did that experiment in chemistry last semester! Now I have some golden pennies. Doesn't have to be Pre 1982 though. Boiled pennies in water with zinc chunks on top, turning them silver. Then they were put on hot plates and turned all brassy! Very cool. Sold two for two dollars! :)
carbon (author)  crestind10 years ago
Are you sure about that? Pennies after 1982 have very little copper in them, (is it 1 or 5%?), while pre-1982's have about 95% copper and 5% zinc. Although I suppose only the surface of the penny is changed, so it would probably work.
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