Lye

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Lye is a liquid created by adding ash to water and waiting.

The process

First stage

One pinch of ash reacts with one drop of water to form "incredibly diluted lye".

You put some fine white ash in the large brown bottle.
The fine white ash dissolves in the water to form some incredibly diluted lye.

"Incredibly diluted lye" looks like this:

This is a highly caustic yellow liquid used for making soap, about two tablespoons.  It's still incredibly diluted at the moment - perhaps letting it soak in more ash would make it stronger.

Second stage

If you add more ash (or if you initially add enough ash to react more) and wait a while, then the ash will turn into "leached ash", apparently indicating that it will not react further, and the lye will turn into a more concentrated version. Just waiting isn't enough: finishing the secondary reaction seems to require logging off, or perhaps manipulating the ash inside the containerresearch. It happens in stages, and seems to take at least two and a half hours for it to react all the way to "lye". It seems that larger amounts may take a little longer.

"Leached ash" can still be used for TPA and looks like this:

This is a large pile of leached ash, about two handfuls.  It looks like all the colour has been leached out of it.

The amount of leached ash is the same as the amount of ash that reacted during the second stage.

There are eight stages of concentration, depending on how much ash you add.

They seem to be as follows:

Stage total pinches ash per 1 drop water
incredibly diluted lye 1
very diluted lye 2
somewhat diluted lye 3
diluted lye 4
very weak lye 5
somewhat weak lye 6
weak lye 7
lye 8

All of the lye in the container will advance to the same stage, with any excess ash left floating in it. So if you add, e.g., fifteen pinches ash to ten drops of water, you'll end up with ten drops of incredibly diluted lye and five pinches of unreacted ash--as opposed to five drops of incredibly diluted lye and five drops of very diluted lye, for example.

The first seven stages all look like this:

This is a highly caustic yellow liquid used for making soap, about two tablespoons.  It's still [stage] at the moment - perhaps letting it soak in more ash would make it stronger.

The apparently final stage, "lye", looks like this:

This is a highly caustic yellow liquid used for making soap, about ten drops.

Dilution

Adding more water to lye that is above the "incredibly diluted lye" will dilute some or all of it to a less concentrated stage. This can result in multiple stages of lye existing in the same container:

The clear shot glass of very diluted lye, diluted lye and lye is about three-quarters full with ten drops of very diluted lye, mixed with five drops of diluted lye and five drops of lye.

One drop of water dilutes one drop of some form of lye into two drops of a weaker form--one that is half as strong, rounded up. So "lye" or "weak lye" becomes "diluted lye", "somewhat weak" or "very weak" lye becomes "somewhat diluted", "diluted" or "somewhat diluted" lye becomes "very diluted", and "very diluted" lye becomes "incredibly diluted".

Water doesn't react with "incredibly diluted lye", remaining unmixed in the same container.

The water appears to react first with the least concentrated lye that it can react with at all. For example, if the container has "diluted lye" and "lye", the water will dilute the "diluted lye" before it will react with the "lye", if there isn't enough water to dilute both.

Mixing different stages of lye appears to have no effect.

Usage

It's currently unknown whether lye (of any concentration) can be used for anything. research

Unlike in real life, it does not appear to be poisonous, nor does it damage you or have any other effect upon drinking it.