Hardwood Floor Accident (Lye)

Well, this probably sounds like a bizarre story, but here goes! I have been working on a remodel and have been using a room as a bit of a storage room. It has red oak, hardwood floors. Well, I apparently had a can of "dry" Lye (Draino) in a box upright. Never thought it would be a problem. Had forgotten about it. Well, to my horror, when I moved the box to do some cleaning, I noticed that the container apparently had opened up (probably moisture got in some how, and leaked through the box and eaten an area about 3X4. It was caked on, so I had to scrape it off. I doused with water, vinegar and orange soap, and think I got most of it, however when I put vinegar on it it still turns a bit white. Think this is probably the Lye? But I do not know what more to do. It has eaten a gap between a couple of the wood planks and eaten into the grain of the wood. The top layer of the wood feels a bit soft, although it is probably still a bit wet. I do not know whether I will be able to sand this down and re-coat with a polyurethene or what? It would be a pain to cut out the boards as it involves two. One rather short one, and one longer one. They are attached to a plywood subdecking, so it probably isn't that big of a deal. But to get it to match, etc. will be a pain. It is a stained floor, to boot! Also, what filler do hardwood guys use to fill hardwood imperfections? Anyone have any experience with this or suggestions, please help. Will Lye stay in the wood and continue to eat at it, or will it be okay once dry, filled, stained and covered with poly?
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<snip a tale of woe with Draino>
There is a cleaner, sold under the trade name TE-KA, to the marine industry to clean trim teak on boats.
Part "A" is caustic soda (base for Draino) that is applied to the surface to bleach the teak back to a honey color.
After Part "A", you apply Part "B" which is phosphoric acid to neutralize Part "A".
After that, you flush with fresh water
It works as advertised with a caveat.
The caustic eats away the soft fibers of the teak leaving a very rough surface which you now have to sand down to get it smooth.
Pretty soon, you don't have any teak left.
Point of that little story is that the Draino has probably eaten away some of the wood fibers which will require either filling and sanding with something or replacing the damaged wood.
My guess it will require replacement.
Good luck.
Lew
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On Apr 3, 9:27 pm, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

Piecing in a couple of boards is not that hard. You do not have to replace the entire longer board. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res 0DE2DC1238F932A35752C1A961948260 or if you like pictures http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/fc_hardwood/article/0,,DIY_13813_2269584,00.htm
I like Woodwise filler, but they're pretty much the same. It's probably a surer bet to replace boards. You might also want to consider staining and finishing the replacement boards before installation. It's very possible that matching will be easier if you're working on them on a workbench than on the floor and trying not to mess up the existing boards. You can make several samples and use the boards that are the closest match.
R
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

I'd replace the 2 sections. Do you have a closet in that room with the same stained floor? You can replace the ones in closet and it will be less noticeable.
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On Thu, 03 Apr 2008 18:27:44 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

The flushing with water probably helps the most since lye (NaOH) is very water soluble. Most likely the white color is salts. Lye reacts with wood and is often used to darken/age cherry. The vinegar should help neutralize it, but to be sure you can use litmus paper or something to read the pH. Since this is a stained floor, I'd apply a patch with wood taken from an inconspicuous location. There are router collars and bits you can use to route out the damaged part and cut a matching patch to be glued into place. Hardboard can be used to make a template.
Personally, I would not use it, but you can use Bondo to fill the hole. Bondo cures in just a few minutes, so you need to plan and work fast.
Drain cleaners, muriatic acid, and other caustic chemicals create a hazard and a problem about how to dispose these chemicals in a responsible manner. I try to use alternatives, even with a college degree in chemistry.
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On Apr 3, 9:27 pm, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

Unless it was sealed in a container impermeable to water vapor (most plastic wrap is NOT impermeable to water vapor) it probably absorbed water vapor from the air. Sodium Hydroxide is deliquescent, which means it will absorb moisture from the air until there is enough moisture to fully dissolve it.
Draino also has aluminum flakes in it so it also gets hot and releases hydrogen gas when it dissolves.
It sounds like your cleanup was thorough, there should be no lye left in the wood.
Others have already advised you on how to repair.
Good luck.
--
FF



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