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Boiling DranO = Bad Idea? Answered

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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guyfrom7up
guyfrom7up

13 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 :)

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bumpus
bumpus

Reply 11 years ago

We did that in 9th grade, its really cool stuff. :D

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Berkin
Berkin

Reply 11 years ago

OMG, dude... that creates carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas!

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westfw
westfw

Reply 13 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.)

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 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.

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trebuchet03
trebuchet03

14 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?

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 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

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 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)

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crestind
crestind

Reply 14 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! :)

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 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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crestind
crestind

Reply 14 years ago

New batteries! Penny on the right is golden! Both are 2006 pennies.

P1010001.JPGP1010002.JPG
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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

according to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_(United_States_coin) this penny link] Pennies are now (since 1982) copper plated.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

It was pre-1962 when the penny had any significant amounts of copper.

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astrozombies138
astrozombies138

Reply 13 years ago

i know that in some point during world war two i believe that zinc pennies were produced becuase the copper was needed for bullets. i have 2 of those pennies actually, and some others dating back to 1918.

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

I had a steel penny, but I think it got lost in one of my moves grrrr. Aren't many of them still around that I know of.

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astrozombies138
astrozombies138

Reply 13 years ago

i also have some of the old mercury dimes too shall i post pictures?

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crestind
crestind

Reply 13 years ago

Mercury dimes? Please post!

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 13 years ago

I have a few of those too. They are becoming a bit scarce now too.

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guyfrom7up
guyfrom7up

Reply 13 years ago

I just wikitised it and those look weird in my opinion

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guyfrom7up
guyfrom7up

Reply 13 years ago

sure, they changed to steel pennies because they needed the copper during the war. then they changed back to copper. then they changed to zinc with copper plating because if you were to go to a bank, get a million pennies (10,000 dollars) you could just go to a metal place, sell them as copper and it'd be worth more than 10,000 dollars and you could get a nice profit for doing nothing.

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astrozombies138
astrozombies138

Reply 13 years ago

ahhh my dad found a old piggie bank thing filled with old coins while digging through his old stuff, im gonna try to find it i put alot of the pennies into one of those collection books

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

Hmm...so there isn't any water in Drano?

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trebuchet03
trebuchet03

Reply 14 years ago

According to the MSDS - DrainO is not Lye ;)

Of course, check the label for active ingredients ;)


Yes, I do like smilies :) It's the only way I can show inflection. When I'm ranting or angry - there's less (if any smilies). But that doesn't happen often. Similarly, if I'm explaining something more technical, I use them a little less :P

Because on the internet, no one can hear your pitch bending :P

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

I love all the different ways that people have found to convey tone and mood over a text medium. And :P is definitely the best. Well, I'd have to say that's it's only second to squid: <:================


Are you saying MSDS is wrong? I was referring to "...which, when mixed with water (in your toilet/clogged drain) starts a chemical reaction..." Revelation = Ohhhh...Drano (the liquid kind) only starts working when water is added!

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trebuchet03
trebuchet03

Reply 14 years ago

I was referring to "...which, when mixed with water (in your toilet/clogged drain) starts a chemical reaction..."

That's in reference to any drain cleaners that use lye ;) Perhaps there's more than one recipe for DrainO - I don't know.

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

Ah, but I wouldn't be adding water to it, would I? Or am I missing the point?

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trebuchet03
trebuchet03

Reply 14 years ago

I was getting at the aluminum content.... I don't know what you're doing - but you probably don't want reactive aluminum in there ;)

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

The proposed idea was to literally boil some Drano in a pot (it only sounds stupid because it is :P), add nails and a penny, and make us up some brass pennies!

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princessjanna
princessjanna

13 years ago

I just tried the penny experiment and my penny turned black instead of silver....hmmm...i'm terribly vexed.

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lemonie
lemonie

14 years ago

You can't buy sodium hydroxide (granular)? Maybe you're not looking in the right stores? Otherwise, it is offered for sale on Ebay. L

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

Care to clue me in on these "right stores?"

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lemonie
lemonie

Reply 14 years ago

I don't live in the States, so I couldn't help you much further. I have found NaOH in a few UK shops, it comes under the 'serious drain cleaner' catergory. Otherwise, as previous comment, try Ebay? L

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westfw
westfw

14 years ago

Solid drano was mostly sodium hydroxide, just like Red Devil. Most of the liquid drain openers contain mostly sodium hypochlorite (bleach, essentially.) The MSDS is a good source for this sort of info. Entering "draino liquid MSDS" turned up This link as the first hit, and it says:

                     Ingredients/Identity Information===========================================================================Proprietary: NOIngredient: HYPOCHLOROUS ACID, SODIUM SALT; (SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE)Ingredient Sequence Number: 01Percent: <10NIOSH (RTECS) Number: NH3486300CAS Number: 7681-52-9OSHA PEL: NOT APPLICABLEACGIH TLV: NOT APPLICABLE-------------------------------------Proprietary: NOIngredient: SODIUM HYDROXIDEIngredient Sequence Number: 02Percent: <2NIOSH (RTECS) Number: WB4900000CAS Number: 1310-73-2OSHA PEL: 2 PPM, CACGIH TLV: 2 PPM, C 

(no wonder it works lousy compared to 95%+ Red Devil lye)

Note that the chlorine content raises the possibility of several reactions that lead to nasty poison gasses. Don't mix with acids, don't mix with ammonia, etc.

An instructable on making soap starting with wood ashes (like in the old days) would be pretty neat, IMO.
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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

Solid Drano was mostly sodium hydroxide? I thought so: the "crystals" within fit the description I'd gotten of lye exactly.

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carbon
carbon

Reply 14 years ago

Hehe: "Special Hazard Precautions: AVOID AMMONIA, ACIDS, TOILET BOWL/ HOUSEHOLD/ DRAIN CLEANERS." So don't allow Drano to mix with itself? ;)

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crapflinger
crapflinger

Reply 14 years ago

hehe....sodium hydroxide does more than etch alluminum....completely dissolves the stuff....i work in an alluminum casting facility...we use sodium hydroxide to clean out our furnaces and "transport kettles"....other than the large tanks of the stuff that we have on site...absolutely NO drain cleaners are allowed in the facility...someone might get angry and ruin some inventory

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carbon
carbon

14 years ago

Sodium hyrdroxide etches aluminium, right?