Gone are the days when you could walk down to the grocery store and pick up a bottle of lye. These days you’ll have to look a little harder. If you’re feeling crafty, you might wonder where to buy sodium hydroxide for soapmaking. We’ve rounded up a list of online retailers as well as local stores you could check out.
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) commonly called lye, or caustic soda is a white, odorless alkali. It’s a highly caustic compound so take the appropriate safety precautions (wear gloves, safety goggles, a mask, and long-sleeves). It also absorbs moisture, so proper storage in an air-tight container is essential.
Note: Since lye is considered a “dangerous good” or “hazardous material” in many countries, you may need to pay an extra shipping tax depending on your location when buying online. Many online retailers only ship lye within the same country.
Ensure you buy quality sodium hydroxide
When buying sodium hydroxide for home soapmaking, it’s important that you buy pure lye from a reputable lye supplier (many are labelled as 99 percent pure). If you plan on making a fair amount of soap, it’s more cost-effective to buy in bulk.
Sodium hydroxide comes in a variety of dried forms:
- Coarse powder
Tip: Make sure that you plan on using your lye within a year or so. Yes, sodium hydroxide has a shelf life. While you could use older lye to make soap, you may not achieve the best results.
The difference between sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide
It’s a bit confusing because the term “lye” applies to both sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH). Potassium hydroxide is also called potash lye. While these two compounds have many similarities and are both used to make soap, there are also a few key differences.
If you’re aiming to make hard bars of soap, you’ll need sodium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide does not harden well, but is good for making soft or liquid soaps.
If you want to read up more on the similarities and differences of sodium and potassium hydroxide, check out our post here.
Food-grade or technical-grade lye?
The difference between food-grade or technical-grade lye when it comes to soapmaking boils down mainly to personal preference. Some soap purists choose only to use food-grade lye.
Food-grade lye is more expensive. It goes through a further purification process to remove impurities. Lye in food? Yes, sodium hydroxide is used in low concentrations in food processing such as removing skins from fruits and veggies during canning, or to create a nice golden-brown color on pretzels.
There’s not too much difference in the end-product in our humble opionion so long as you’re working only with pure sodium hydroxide. The type of water you use (distilled preferably) makes more of a difference than the grade of lye.
Local shops to check out
While lye isn’t readily available in stores like it used to be, you can sometimes try looking for it at your local hardware stores, like Home Hardware. It might be in the same aisle as drain cleaners as sodium hydroxide is also a powerful cleaning agent. Just be sure you’re getting pure lye without any additional additives.
If you can’t find lye, or would like to buy a larger size than what’s offered in-store, speak to someone who could try to place a special order for you.
You can also check out local craft stores or specialty food stores that may carry smaller bottles of food-grade lye.
Where to buy sodium hydroxide for soapmaking online
Here’s a roundup of online retailers that sell good ol’ NaOH suitable for soapmaking. Please do your own due diligence and look into reviews and costs, and any additional shipping costs.
Amazon: Of course Amazon has lye for sale. Just be sure to select a seller with a good rating and ensure it’s 100 percent pure lye.
Bitter Creek Candle Co.: Based in Wisconsin, this company sells candlemaking and soapmaking supplies as well as packaging.
Botanic Planet: Suppliers of essential oils and raw materials for making cosmetics. Based in Ontario, Canada.
Bramble Berry: Based in Washington State, Bramble Berry is an online seller of soapmaking, essential oils, and other personal care products craft supplies.
Bulk Apothecary: Their name says it—bulk. Find a wide range of bulk items including soapmaking supplies, raw materials such as shea butter, candlemaking supplies, and packaging. Based in Ohio.
Canwax: Suppliers of candlemaking, and soapmaking goods, including essential oils. Based in Ontario, Canada.
Essential Depot: Get all your soapmaking, soap kits, and skin care making supplies here, with an emphasis on ethically-sources, greener products. Based in Florida.
Just a Soap: Based in the U.K., Just a Soap sells a variety of soapmaking and bath bomb supplies.
Lehman’s: Based in Ohio, this online store carries a wide range of “old-timer” products including a huge housewares section for baking and cooking, as well as a variety of soapmaking supplies. If you’re ever in Kidron, OH, they have a large bricks-and-mortar store.
Naturally Thinking: A U.K. supplier of aromatherapy, skincare, and soapmaking supplies.
Nature’s Garden: A wholesaler of candle and soap supplies. Based in Wellington, Ohio, with a physical storefront there too.
Pure Blend Naturals: Based in Ontario, Canada, they offer plant-based natural skin care products raw materials for soaps and cosmetics.
Saffire Blue: They have a pickup location available in Woodstock, Ontario, and a distribution center across the border in Port Huron, MI. They have plenty of soap recipes on their website to help you get started.
Soap and More: Based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, you can buy your sodium and potassium hydroxide here. They also have a brick-and-mortar store.
Soapmakers Store: A large EU-based online retailer.
The Lye Guy: The U.S.-based Lye Guy focuses just on selling high quality lye. Only ships within the U.S. Get your sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide here.
The Soap Kitchen: Large U.K. based supplier of soap and bath bomb making supplies.
Voyageur Soap and Candle: Based in British Columbia, Canada, this online retailer sells plenty of soap and candle materials, as well as aromatherapy supplies.
Wholesale Supplies Plus: Large supplier of wholesale soap, essential oils, molds, and other craft supplies. Based in Ohio.
Windy Point: Based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, they have all the soapmaking supplies you need. They ship smaller packs of lye, however larger bags of lye are available for pickup only.
Where to buy sodium hydroxide for soapmaking: brick-and-mortar stores
Sometimes it’s nice to just swing by a physical storefront and pick up what you need. We’ll try to update this list as best we can, but double-check and call before making the drive.
This list is a work-in-progress…we hope to continue to update this.
7301 Mount Vernon St
Lemon Grove, CA 91945-3122
Phone: (619) 668-1435
Boyer Corporation (Makers of the popular Red Crown lye)
9600 W Ogden Ave
LaGrange, IL 60525
Toll Free: 800-323-4030
Must call ahead to pick up orders.
42109 State Route 18
Wellington, OH 44090
Soap and More
3830 – 7 ST SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 2Y8
Toll free: 888-918-2346
2893 E Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5M 1Y9
150 – 2268 No 5 Rd.
Richmond, British Columbia V6X 2T1
Phone: 604-629-8383 (call ahead for orders)
114 Lindgren Rd West, Unit #1b
Huntsville, ON P1H 1Y2
Toll Free: 1-877-670-6002
Pick Up Location:
344 Dundas Street
Woodstock, ON N4S 1B4
Toll Free: 877-248-1115
Saffire Blue also has a U.S. Distribution Center:
1915 Dove Street
Port Huron, MI 48060
Montréal, Québec H1X 1A2
Note: They offer soapmaking supplies via order by email or phone. Last we checked, they didn’t list lye prices online.