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Hello! My friend had an accident yesterday. She works in a small soap factory and her colleague accidentally spilled sodium hydroxide to her legs. They took her to the hospital and she is fine now. Since I work with various chemicals as well I would like to know how to treat sodium hydroxide burn on the skin?

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DO NOT PUT ANY ACID SUCH AS VINEGAR ON THAT! Water reacts with Sodium Hydroxide? Vinegar reacts with it much faster and potentially more damaging. That guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Water will help dilute it during the neutralization. Vinegar will straight up react with it in a typical acid-base reaction which a strong acid with a strong base react releasing more energy than a weak-acid (in this case water) with a strong base (sodium hydroxide).
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Sodium hydro is very corrosive and it should have been diluted not added with vinegar %-)
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Vinegar is a weak acid...
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ok people.... Im an oilfield safety consultant for a major oilfield drilling company. We use caustic soda beads (Sodium Hydroxide) in our drilling mud. As a safety precaution we put gallons of vinegar in our mud houses to NEUTRALIZE a NaOH caustic burn. Then flush with copious amounts of water to dilute the solution. It's called an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and is a direct link of information to any hazardous chemical or substance you may come in contact with. If your messing with dangerous chemicals at your job then an MSDS station should be readily available. It's an OSHA law called the right-to-know station.
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If you work with strong chemicals there should always be an MSDS readily available. I'm a chem major and we have MSDS's for our labs at ALL TIMES. If your station does not have a MSDS or did not train you to care for proper handling of certain chemicals, they can be sued.
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Guest wrote:

before rinsing with water cover the area with vinegar because sodium hydroxide reacts with water and the vinegar will neutralize the reaction

NaOH doesn't react with water... it will only give off heat when dissolving... In fact rinse with vinegar with cause neutralization which also gives off lots of heat and that may also cause unnecessary burns, just rinsing thoroughly with lots of cold water.
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water is the only way to neutralize . so many people think that these creams and stuff from the store will help......flush for 20 to 30 min. get medical treatment.
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Diphoterine it is a spray in a bottle that acutally is used to neutralize both acids and bases.  This spray works as i work in a chemical plant and just used it on myself. This is distributed by levitt-safety limited.  If you don't have this product water preferably cool to cold is the best way, that is why chemicals plants have safety showers and eyewash stations.

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then who is right?
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I would say both - FIRST and foremost, rinse rinse rinse with lots of water, THEN with some diluted vinegar.  This is what we did anyway, so I will have to let you know how my husband's hands turn out...  He stuck them in Drano-water helping out an old lady with a clogged sink.  I have no idea how long he had his hands in there, but he called me afterward and said "honey, my hands are sort of hurting and itching, I was in Drano, what should I put on them...?"    eh  o.O  

This sort of burn will not reveal itself fully for at least a day or two, I keep telling him, "we don't know how bad it is yet, keep putting this aloe vera on your hands..." 

 

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I am Medic in OilField, I read our MSDS for caustic soda, it did not mention any vinegar. You have to rinse affected with running water for 15 mins. but removed contaminated clothing first. for patient with mild caustic soda exposure ton his hand. 1. First aid is wash with water running water for 15 mins. then I took picture for documentation 2. apply burn Cream, 3. Cover with sterile gauze 4. Apply ice pack 5. Give pain reliever Caustic soda is a strong corrosive, It could even damage the Red wing safety boots and create holes on it.

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Yea if ur a temp n made to do it n not trained or proper ppe ur screwed I was sent into a room untrained n no proper Ppe n got a bad burn
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R u suppose to take the clothes that's got the chemical n put back on after u rinse it? I don't care if u rinse them clothes I don't see it helping putting back on the clothes with chemicals on them n working 8 more hrs plus.n if its already burnt were its busted the blisters that can't be good.I seen one so infected it was on her thigh n now she's having trouble with that leg dr can't figure why her legs swelling n knotting but the burns healed n she lost her pulse n that foot n since she worked for a temp agency shes screwed she can't stand more than 2 hrs without her leg being knotted n swollan any advice it was sodium hydroxide that got her n might I add they laid her off for it n the guy who told her to do it kept telling her bye bye she worked approximately 4 days after she got the burn
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I spilled 30% NaOH on my hand during a lab session. Just spilled water (cold) over it for 1minute and it turned out to be ok. Notice you will get some kind of wax layer on your skin when you spill NaOH. Be sure to wash it off immediately as it only starts burnign after a couple minutes. 

No idea about vinegar though. It forms a salt and water, so i suppose it can be used too.

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