Lye water, the sale of

Lye water food additives cannot be sold or supplied for household use if the pH level is higher than 11.5

This Australia-wide sale restriction is necessary because there have been a number of serious and in some cases, life-threatening injuries where children have accidentally swallowed lye water. The pH of lye water products can vary – the higher the pH, the more dangerous the lye water is. So from the 1 September 2010, the most dangerous types of lye water cannot be sold for household use.

Health concerns

Lye water is a strongly alkaline (caustic) solution which can cause severe injury in the form of corrosive burns, especially to the throat, oesophagus and stomach if swallowed. These injuries can result in hospitalisation and permanent damage in severe cases.

Lye water can be dangerous if: 

  • accidentally swallowed straight from the bottle, which can burn your mouth, throat and stomach
  • splashed on skin, which can burn your eyes and skin.

Translate fact sheets for food retailers

Translated fact sheets detailing the restrictions on the sale of lye water are available in the following languages:

Further information

For further information on lye water, contact SA Health's Scientific Services on

Phone: (08) 8226 7100