This guy made sodium in his garage with a blowtorch, table salt and some calcium chloride. Using calcium chloride you can get the melting temp down to about 600 degrees Celsius, a bit hotter than NaOH but the fumes and splashes (while still hazardous) aren’t as dangerous. Here is the post where he talks about it:
"The device I want to sell is for the electrolysis of water. The method I made to get sodium was rather crude but worked (suprisingly). The result was of a low grade of course. I didn't know much about Downs cells but I still took steps to prevent oxidization.
I heated a mixture of NaCl (table salt) and CaCl2 (calcium chloride- from chemistry set) to its melting point in an old crucible my dad had with his torch. I lowered in two carbon rods (suspended from copper wire) and placed a steel washer blank over the whole setup to keep out SOME air. The sodium (and calcium too apparently) collected on the cathode. When I felt I had a fair amount I pulled the cathode and shook it off inside an aluminum tube. I let this cool for about a second or two then proceeded to pour on mineral oils to keep out oxygen.
I put some of the chips of sodium in a petri dish of water and they bounced around. I think I may have found the simplest version of your steam boat! My question is how does pure sodium react? Is it supposed to burn? I would like to see any ideas you have on a Downs Cell but my washer was a pretty close fit to the molten mixture. I used an old Hawker SLA battery I had lying around (8 Ah, I think it cranked at 250 amps once....) and had 2 dehumidifiers running in close proximity (doubt that helped). And yes, I used the calcium chloride to lower the melting temperature (though I could use plain NaCl if I used more Oxygen with my torch...) I will take pictures if I ever do it again. By the way- my science teacher told me of an incident where a teacher put a brick of pure sodium in a garbage can of water resulting in many casualties. Have you heard of this incident? Anyway, thank you."
Some of it is about another conversation.
Heres the rest of the page:http://scitoys.com/board/messages/9/49.html?1081036047