lye, name commonly used for a strongly alkaline solution. It originally meant a solution of potassium carbonate (potash) prepared by leaching wood ashes with water, but now the name also means a solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide . Lye is also used to refer to the undissolved solute. Common household lye is usually sodium hydroxide. Lye should be used with caution as it is caustic and poisonous.
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