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[Source] Lye

I have been using “Red Devil Lye” (100 percent lye) mixed with water
for cleaning many of my very dirty jewelry pieces. I have run out
and have found that none of the grocery stores in our community sells
it. Two stores said that it is used in the making of Meth and in
Tennessee it is banned from sale. I hate to give up this helpful
product. Any suggestions?

Dale Pavatte
Diamonds For You, Decherd, TN

“Drano” (“Draino”??) draincleaner is mostly lye, I believe with chips
of aluminum added. It might work. “Easy-off” oven cleaner is another
possibility. Best to experiment first on some lower value pieces.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Hi Dale,

I would call around some more, and see if it is really "banned"
legally, or some retailers have bowed to law enforcement wishes and
voluntarily pull it from the shelves. I suspect there are stores that
will still have it, or get in online. I assume or course they have
not made it illegal to possess in legitimate circumstances.

For very dirty jewelry that does not contain delicate gems or pearls
high strength ammonia works well in heated ultrasonic. Unpleasant
smell though.

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West

Hi Dale,

Try hardware stores and check the internet for soap-making supplies.
Look for the generic name caustic soda or the chemical sodium
hydroxide. It’s out there, although you may be limited in the
quantity you can buy at one time.

Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas

i’ve not used it myself but i know it is used in the process of soap
making you may look up soap making in yahoo, im sure you will find
it somewhere, how about a hardware store??

good luck

This product is available on Amazon: RECKITT BENCKISER #75138 18OZ
RED Devil lye.

i use red devil drain cleaner from the grocery store…just make
sure it say’s 100% lye…they do carry other products under the
same name

lisa mcconnell

Hi Dale,

It is getting very hard to find Red Devil Lye on your grocer’s
shelves! The word is out on meth production so retailers just quit
stocking it. It is still available here in West Texas supermarkets.
Why don’t you order Sodium Hydroxide from a chemical supply? You will
have to file a Hazmat waiver with the vendor first then you can order
as much as you like. Here is a link that will fix you up:


You can still find it in the cleaning supplies in many grocery
stores. It is used, as mentioned, in soap making but also for
cleaning ovens (I think) and cleaning out drains. It is usually next
to the oven cleaning/drain cleaning supplies. I don’t know what part
of the country you live in but

look for grocery stores that cater to “country folk” and carry big
sacks of flour and sugar. In Texas, I have found it at HEB but not
Wal-Mart or Kroger’s. In Alabama/Mississippi, I found it at IGA and
Piggly Wiggly, but I could not say these two chains actually exist

Nancy Logan (Jarrar)
Clinical Research
Baylor College of Medicine
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Houston, TX 77030

If there are any locals who brew their own biodiesel, you can ask
them where they get their lye- lye or its relative, sodium hydroxide,
is indispensable for brewing biodiesel.


I would call around some more, and see if it is really "banned"
legally, or some retailers have bowed to law enforcement wishes
and voluntarily pull it from the shelves. 

A quick search of the Tennessee statutes provides no identification
of sodium hydroxide as a banned substance. In our area, items used
for making meth have been moved behind the counter, and if you want
them, you have to ask for them, and they will ask for ID if you want
more than a reasonable amount.

Some of the smaller stores have simply given up stocking the stuff.
Check with home centers and hardware stores. It’s still one of the
most effective drain cleaners out there (You have to be careful
using it on a grease clog, or you risk filling the pipe with crude
soap; but it’s still one of the best for hair and root infiltration).

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR

Dale Look for Caustic Soda and it should do your job.

Kenneth Singh

I couldn’t believe this post, I’m a soap maker and have bought Red
Devil Lye for years. I recently started buying it in 50 lbs bags,
because its much much cheaper, but I still wanted to get to the
bottom of this.

I Google-ed it and found that the maker is discontinuing it.

Query on Red Devil Lye and Meth.

I found from MethodMan, how to make Meth at home…

And I found from a soap link other sources of Sodium Hydroxide.

From the Article:

  Most large cities have a solvent or chemical company that will
  sell lye (Sodium Hydroxide) in 35 or 50 lb. bags. You'll pay a
  fraction (per pound) of what the Red Devil cost, but, you've
  got to be able to safely store that much lye. Remember the
  cautions you go through with a 12 oz. jar of lye, now imagine
  35 lbs. of it! 

  Buy lye from one of the following online mail order vendors: 

  The Boyer Corporation
  Snowdrift Farm
  The Soap Dish
  Summer Bee Meadow

Love and God Bless

Randy – You are probably making out OK with large bags because it
sounds like you use them up pretty quickly. Or you live in a very dry
area. (or both!) Sodium hydroxide will take up water from the air,
and unless enclosed in a jar or something that will not admit water
(from the air), it soon becomes a very caustic semi-liquid mess.


As to lye not being sold anymore in the markets - this is true… I
also make soap. which of course, requires lye. This has caused a big
dislocation in the soaping community, as you can well imagine. The
only places to get it now are on-line soap supply shops - usually
will ship small amounts for $3-5 per pound, and industrial supply
places where you can buy 50 # bags, if that’s what you can use.
Here’s one link -


My father use to buy lye from the place he got cement for mixing
with cement to set posts

Don in Idaho

Lye is indeed hard to find in shops these days. But here’s a source
I found online. I just ordered some, we’ll see.

I don’t comment on here often, however I saw this post concerning
obtaining lye.

If any of you that needed lye live in, around or near Old Order
Mennonite or Amish communities or settlements, you can usually find
lye in the hardware stores, as it is still used frequently for making
lye soaps and other soaps, as well as for soaking the hulls off of
corn in the making of Hominy.

Belowe is link to Lehman’s Non Electric catalog website, this store
is run by Amish/Mennonite people and they supply the Plain
Communities with Plain Products. They are located near Hartville OH.

I was an Old Order Mennonite until the age of 25, some 20 years ago.

I hope this helps whoever needed to find lye.

Mitchell Webster
Bridgewater, Virginia

Lye seemed to have been dropped from the grocery store shelves here
but i found it at Home depot (maybe at Lowes too) a casualty of the
illegal drug trade along with sudafed.


red devil lye at ace hardwares around 2.50 per lb…