PDA

View Full Version : Antidote to Lye in the Face


yams!!
02-28-2010, 12:54 PM
Let's say I am walking down the street, enjoying a nice acidic beverage (like a Coke, or maybe some orange juice) when I happen upon the fall-out from a lover's quarrel. A group of thugs has cornered a woman (or a man) and just as I am approaching, they throw a bottle of lye in the victim's face. Would any benefit be reaped if I sacrificed my beverage and similarly threw it at the victim?

My thinking, of course, is that since lye is caustic and basic, perhaps the acid in the soda (or orange juice) would serve to neutralize some of the lye, thus reducing potential injury. I don't think that phosphoric acid (the acid in Coke, or citric acid in OJ) is a particularly strong acid, or at least is not present in sufficient quantities to neutralize great quantities of lye, which is a strong base, but maybe it would help a little?

Similarly, if I was walking down the street, carrying a nice fresh box of baking soda, and observed an assault with a beaker of acid, would it be helpful to throw the baking soda on top of the acid?

Furthermore! What is the appropriate course of action for situations like this? Washing off the offending substance would be a good first step, I would imagine, but what if, again, you are on the street, with no accessible sinks or hoses? Or what if the lye has been mixed with honey (as I understood is sometimes done) so it is extra hard to remove?

(Chemical attacks are not common in my neighborhood, nor am I planning to be involved in one in any way - I am watching a movie (which shall remain nameless to prevent spoilers) in which a jilted lover arranges for some thugs to throw lye in the face of his mistress.)

Thank you!

love
yams!!

Umbriel2
02-28-2010, 02:15 PM
I suppose they'd be better than nothing, but the best course in either case would be flushing the affected area with as much water as possible to remove the corrosive agent. If it happens in a bar, and you have a Coke dispenser hose handy, fire away.

yams!!
02-28-2010, 02:21 PM
But if I was at a bar, why not just rush the victim to the sink and rinse the hell out of their face? Would it be better to rinse with the Coke gun because of the acidic properties of Coke, or would that not actually do anything, and better rinse it with water?

And anyway, although rinsing with water is the best first step, my theoretical is on the streets, where water is in short supply (all the better, therefore, to test the therapeutic properties of Coke).


love
yams!!

Chronos
02-28-2010, 02:58 PM
For the lye case, the acid in Coke or orange juice would probably be some help, but I would expect you could do nearly as much good by just throwing the same amount of water in the victim's face. Still, if you have an acidic liquid on hand, you might as well use that instead.

For the acid case, chemistry labs do indeed keep baking soda on hand for emergency use. It's also good as a fire suppressant.

Inner Stickler
02-28-2010, 03:01 PM
It's not really relevant but when I was taking chem classes, the first step after alerting the prof or TA to an acid spill was to dump baking soda on it.

DrFidelius
02-28-2010, 03:23 PM
I'm just relieved the OP didn't include "Need Answer Fast."

Qadgop the Mercotan
02-28-2010, 03:55 PM
The medical rule of thumb is to flush any chemical burn with a ton of water, FAST, and don't worry about fancy-schmancy neutralization schemes, which take time to figure out, time to implement, increase the chance for error and delay, and haven't been proven to be more beneficial than using vast volumes of an essentially neutral agent like water.

Chronos
02-28-2010, 04:08 PM
..which take time to figure outGood point. If you're just walking down the street and suddenly see a chemical attack, you probably won't even know if it's lye or acid. Even if it's acid, though, throwing your Coke at someone will do more good than harm, if that's the only liquid you have immediately at hand (though you should still try to get as much water as possible, as quickly as possible).

Shalmanese
02-28-2010, 08:05 PM
The pH of coke is 2.5, the pH of lye is 13. That means you need about 30 times as much coke to neutralize and equivalent amount of lye.

runcible spoon
02-28-2010, 08:13 PM
The pH of coke is 2.5, the pH of lye is 13. That means you need about 30 times as much coke to neutralize and equivalent amount of lye.

Big Gulp?

johnpost
02-28-2010, 09:25 PM
i agree that lots of water is the best first move for lye or most acid/base exposures. eye wash and body showers for emergencies in labs and industry are lots of water, gallons of it.

a spill on the floor is different, you can take your time and neutralize it rather than to dilute it and spread it around. baking soda is a good neutralizer for many acid/base situations.

Darryl Lict
03-01-2010, 03:34 AM
In lieu of any water source, you'd be well served to piss all over their face. Whether or not the victim is happy about this is a whole different matter.

According to this site (http://www.rnceus.com/ua/uaph.html), the pH of urine is close to neutral. It states that your pee will be acidic due to the following conditions:
* Acidosis
* Uncontrolled diabetes
* Diarrhea
* Starvation and dehydration
* Respiratory diseases in which carbon dioxide retention occurs and acidosis develops


Please keep this is mind when making the decision to piss on their face.

Tom Tildrum
03-01-2010, 05:14 AM
You may recall that this scenario happened in Fight Club, albeit on a character's hand. In the movie, the lye was neutralized with vinegar. Here's Yahoo Answers suggesting (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080305123154AAH3eAh) why that's a bad idea (the reaction produces a lot of heat).

Here's a guy (http://chuckpalahniuk.net/forum/1000010/anyone-do-the-chemical-burn-with-lye) in the forums on Chuck Palahniuk's website claiming that he did it.

Monty
03-01-2010, 05:53 AM
IIRC, a bar soda dispenser hose may have a few buttons on it, one of which is for water.

Ferret Herder
03-01-2010, 06:01 AM
You may recall that this scenario happened in Fight Club, albeit on a character's hand. In the movie, the lye was neutralized with vinegar. Here's Yahoo Answers suggesting (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080305123154AAH3eAh) why that's a bad idea (the reaction produces a lot of heat).
Various soapmaking books that I've read also say to use nothing but lots of water to neutralize any lye spills on skin, and specifically discourage vinegar or anything else. They also specify a bin of water to rinse your lye-contaminated utensils and pans.

Chief Pedant
03-01-2010, 06:53 AM
As QtM mentions, initial treatment of topical exposure to bases and acids is decontamination by removal of any clothing followed by copious flushing except for really odd situations like elemental lithium or magnesium or something. Residual lye on the skin (and corneas, the worst injury-prone area for injury from topical bases) will not be ameliorated by "neutralizing" the offending substance. Lye in particular sort of turns the surface in a soupy mess and very prolonged flushing is by far the best approach, particularly with corneas.

If you are determined to have a nice topical exposure/emergency topical antidote, one example might be hydrfluoric acid and calcium gluconate gel (after adequate decontamination) but off the top of my head I can't think of too many other similar topical antidotes.

si_blakely
03-01-2010, 09:37 AM
You may recall that this scenario happened in Fight Club, albeit on a character's hand. In the movie, the lye was neutralized with vinegar. Here's Yahoo Answers suggesting (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080305123154AAH3eAh) why that's a bad idea (the reaction produces a lot of heat).Just diluting NaOH in water produces significant heat, so I can't see that vinegar would be much different. The trick is volume, no matter what you use, and avoiding compounding the problem. This is the reason you use something dilute and weak to neutralise a strong acid/base spill. You don't throw NaOH on a sulphuric acid spill because you will overcorrect and add caustic burns to the acid burns. You use sodium bicarb solution - it takes heaps more (technical term) but once the acid is neutralised, additional bicarb will not cause more damage. But water is the safest and fastest option, other things to hand will do (any cool drink available, urine, whatever).

I will just add - I have got used to the multitude ways people mistreat and abuse others. But there has to be a special circle in hell reserved for the subhumans who use chemical agents to blind, scar and kill others. It has to be one of the most appalling and cowardly crimes people (and I use the term advisedly) can commit.

Si

si_blakely
03-01-2010, 09:47 AM
If you are determined to have a nice topical exposure/emergency topical antidote, one example might be hydrfluoric acid and calcium gluconate gel (after adequate decontamination) but off the top of my head I can't think of too many other similar topical antidotes.This is more to do with biochemistry, though, as far as I can recall from my chemistry years. HF perfuses flesh quickly so just washing it off is not as effective, and the F ions binds with Ca+ ions from nerve cells. The calcium gluconate provides Ca+ ions to bind with F- and immobilise them, as well as replacing cellular Ca to prevent cell death. Medical support is still required post neutralisation.

Si

Really Not All That Bright
03-01-2010, 09:52 AM
a spill on the floor is different, you can take your time and neutralize it rather than to dilute it and spread it around. baking soda is a good neutralizer for many acid/base situations.
Why would you add baking soda to a "base situation"? It's alkaline.

johnpost
03-01-2010, 10:40 AM
a spill on the floor is different, you can take your time and neutralize it rather than to dilute it and spread it around. baking soda is a good neutralizer for many acid/base situations.

Why would you add baking soda to a "base situation"? It's alkaline.

it is a weak base. relative to a strong basic solution it is acidic and will neutralize.

it is safe to handle so getting it on yourself isn't hazardous. using more than you need isn't hazardous.

since it will neutralize both acids and bases there is no confusion about picking what to use.

Really Not All That Bright
03-01-2010, 10:41 AM
Then why wouldn't you use something neutral?

johnpost
03-02-2010, 05:57 PM
a spill on the floor is different, you can take your time and neutralize it rather than to dilute it and spread it around. baking soda is a good neutralizer for many acid/base situations.

Why would you add baking soda to a "base situation"? It's alkaline.

it is a weak base. relative to a strong basic solution it is acidic and will neutralize.

it is safe to handle so getting it on yourself isn't hazardous. using more than you need isn't hazardous.

since it will neutralize both acids and bases there is no confusion about picking what to use.

Then why wouldn't you use something neutral?

baking soda is dirt cheap, easily available in quantity and it works.

Chronos
03-02-2010, 06:27 PM
Yeah, but water is even cheaper and available in greater quantity, and it's even less basic than baking soda.

johnpost
03-02-2010, 07:11 PM
Yeah, but water is even cheaper and available in greater quantity, and it's even less basic than baking soda.

though it spreads the hazard more than neutralize it.