Author Topic: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?  (Read 394 times)

Offline Christian Andersen

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How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« on: December 22, 2019, 12:33:43 AM »
Sorry folks, I did try and search out this question via the search engine, and I'm sure it must be in there somewhere.

Anyhow.. So if your Lye bath is around approx. 5 gal.  I am 2.5 lbs Lye/5 gal water.  How do I know when to start over with fresh Lye and water?  Is it a matter of after roughly 5-6 skillets of average size and funk buildup.. change up bath?  Or is there some more accurate method of knowing when?
I am working through this old Lodge SK 10, that was the nastiest skillet I've ever seen.  About 7 days in the bath, and with some additional added scrubbing every two days, and back to bath.  Skillet is 95% cleaned up, but I'm still soaking it.   Sometimes I just want to keep starting new baths, but as you know the cost of Lye with shipping is kinda pricey, so don't want to do it unnecessarily.

Offline Valerie Johnson

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2019, 01:46:26 PM »
I don't think 5-6 skillets is a lot , I have not counted but I guess I have probably cleaned almost 50 pieces in the same bath, I generally go for a redo when I notice residue from the bath settling on the bottom part of the iron as it hangs in my tank.

Lye is less effective in colder weather.

Electrolysis can help with some really hard stuck on black grease. It actually lifts it off without dissolving

Offline Christian Andersen

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2019, 02:39:10 PM »
Quote
I don't think 5-6 skillets is a lot , I have not counted but I guess I have probably cleaned almost 50 pieces in the same bath, I generally go for a redo when I notice residue from the bath settling on the bottom part of the iron as it hangs in my tank.

Lye is less effective in colder weather.

Electrolysis can help with some really hard stuck on black grease. It actually lifts it off without dissolving

Yeah, I totally felt that this bath could go for much longer, but of course the water just looks nasty, so thought I'd check.
Frustrating on the temp stuff, I get it.  Garage about 50 degrees, but this whole CI, Lye stuff etc.  is (my) thing.  My wife isn't going for any Lye bath in the actual house.   ;D

Speaking of Lye,  oh man... does one admit to stupid moves when online?  OK, so I had a clogged drain in my bathroom sink for literally a month, right at same time I got into CI restoration, etc.
After multiple attempts with Draino, mini snake, etc.  I read that the actual Lye crystals were fine to use on your drain, etc.  Thought it was something to do with the pipes are NOT  made of aluminum, so good to go, etc.
Used a couple spoons of lye on clog.   Nuttin' happening..
A week later, MORE  is better, right?   Used prob a 1/4 cup, not that much if you ask me.
Last night ran a snake down sink drain..  snake hits the pee trap, and goes right through it!  Apparently the lye sitting in the pee trap was not a good move.   Now I'm looking at a plumber for both the clog and new pipe! :(

Offline Jeff Friend

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2019, 03:18:15 PM »
You should be able to clean a few dozen "typical" skillets with the lye solution you describe.  The reaction between the grease and the NaOH is a lot slower with a cold solution.  One of our members uses an immersion heater to keep his lye at a high temperature for faster cleaning.  The heaters don't last forever, but he swears by them.
Keep in mind that lye reacts with aluminum! 

Google livestock water tank heaters and see what looks like it might fit your system.   Maybe something like this one would work.
https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=2E87C5D7-7B6A-11D5-A192-00B0D0204AE5
Hold still rabbit so I can dunk you in this bucket of lye!

Offline Russell Ware

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2019, 06:09:40 PM »
The best way clean cast iron that is really grungy is to use multiple cleaning systems. Lye is only chemical cleaning, but some of the burned matter can be layers of carbon ash, not so much organic since it can be burned that much. That is where electrolysis comes into play. The generation of the gas bubbles lends to the physical displacement of the crud, and you can see that floating in the solution at times.
Keep in mind too that thick layers put on over time can allow water to get trapped in the matter. Rust can start and that will get bound up with the carbonized crud, making the cleaning more difficult using only one method.
Plastic scrapers and dental picks can also help to dislodge some of that stuff.

Offline Valerie Johnson

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2019, 08:24:00 PM »
Quote
Last night ran a snake down sink drain..  snake hits the pee trap, and goes right through it!  Apparently the lye sitting in the pee trap was not a good move.   Now I'm looking at a plumber for both the clog and new pipe!


Metal P traps are notorious for rotting out, they are basically thin steel with a chrome plating, Not likely the lye affected more likely residue caused the rot .
Plastic/PVC is the way to go

You should be able to replace the traps yourself unless you have a really old house with cast iron or lead drain fittings.



Offline Christian Andersen

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2019, 10:21:51 PM »
[quote

Google livestock water tank heaters and see what looks like it might fit your system.   Maybe something like this one would work.
https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html?pgguid=2E87C5D7-7B6A-11D5-A192-00B0D0204AE5[/quote]

Thanks for the tip on this type of heater.  I will look more into it.

Too bad that I discovered all this  interest in CI rehab, during the winter months.  I wound up stripping all 6-7 pieces of my collection at the same time, which has left me with a lot of fine tuning (flash rust) easy fix, but itís like when an entire crop of a vegetables comes in at the same time.   A little overwhelming.   
Iím all about setting up an electrolysis tank, but again, hampered by that it has to be in my garage, and I canít have doors open for free flowing air, etc.    maybe if I lived in the country or something, where people are comfortable with leaving a place unlocked and open.

Offline Russell Ware

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2019, 07:55:45 AM »
If you don't want the flash rust to develop, store the clean iron in a bucket full of clean lye solution until you have the time to season it.
You don't have to leave the garage door open while an electrolysis unit is running. It was 28 degrees F yesterday morning, and that didn't stop me from zapping a teapot. A friend runs his electro year round in his basement without doors or windows open. If the amperage on an electro unit is high enough to be churning out enough hydrogen to ignite, I suggest that the battery charger would overheat and burn itself out before any gas hazard was created.

Offline Valerie Johnson

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Re: How often do you change out Lye bath, for fresh Lye/water?
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2019, 10:07:31 AM »
Quote
If the amperage on an electro unit is high enough to be churning out enough hydrogen to ignite, I suggest that the battery charger would overheat and burn itself out before any gas hazard was created.

My electro unit is outside, the charger is inside and the cables run out a port on the sidewall of the building so it is inside and out of the weather, I have a cover for the electro bath so it does not get diluted in the rain, I was running it one day and it had been raining so I had the cover on, It's not airtight but just to keep the rain out, I lifted the cover and disconnected the negative lead without going inside and unplugging the charger.  I rinsed the piece and placed it back in the electro bath and when I went to connect the negative cable back to the clamp on the piece I had in the bath I saw a bolt of lightning go across the top of the water in several directions it was like the whole surface of the water ignited...I will never again disconnect a piece without first unplugging the charger.
Lesson learned