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Sodium carbonate: what is it and what are its uses?

Sodium carbonate: what is it and what are its uses?


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The sodium carbonate is the chemical name of soda, one of the basic and most used industrial chemicals.

But what is it used for? What are its characteristics?

What soda ash is used for

The main applications of sodium carbonate they are in fact easily found in glass manufacturing processes and in the production of chemicals. It is also used in the processing of wood pulp for the production of paper, in the production of soaps and detergents, in the refining of aluminum, in water softening and in many other applications. It can also be useful to help remove alcohol and grease stains from clothes, as well as calcifications from coffee makers or hot water heaters.

There soda it can also be used for increase the alkalinity in swimming pools, helping to ensure the correct pH balance of the water. It can be used in dyeing to help the color adhesion to the fabric effectively.

Read also Sodium in food

How to store and transport soda ash

Sodium carbonate is normally packaged in plastic or polyethylene lined bags, multi-wall paper bags. Fragile and crystalline, this product is subject to breakage due to transport, thus requiring particular attention and awareness.

Soda is usually stored in the warehouse for short periods of time, and is then stocked and ready for retail deliveries.

How soda ash is produced

The original process of sodium carbonate production, the Leblanc process, is no longer used today, but it played an important role in the industrial revolution.

Soda can be produced synthetically using limestone, salt and ammonia. This process was, however, the main source of sodium carbonate until the discovery of important deposits in many areas of the world. Considering that this process is more expensive than the exploitation of natural sodium carbonate deposits, this second approach is evidently preferred.

Please note that a series of steps are required refining to produce soda ash from its "natural" state, considering that the raw ore mined must be crushed and analyzed. The material is then fed to rotary calculators and heated. In this process, the mineral decomposes to form raw soda, which is dissolved in water.

The insoluble shales are separated from the solution by a combination of decantation and filtration steps, and the resulting insoluble residues are returned to the mine as backfill material. The soda ash solution is treated to remove organic materials that produce a saturated solution of high purity soda ash.

Subsequently, the solution is fed to the crystallizers where the water evaporates, to form sodium carbonate monohydrate crystals. The crystals are dehydrated and washed using cyclones and centrifuges and the solution is recycled into the evaporation units for further recovery of the soda. The monohydrate crystals are fed to rotary kilns, where they are dried and transformed into finished soda. Finally, the product is screened and sent to the storage silos awaiting loading by rail and truck.

Soda applications

Soda ash is used as source of sodium for sodium sulfite / sodium bi-sulphite paste baths, used in various processes. It is also possible to replace a part of the caustic soda with sodium carbonate in many bleaching applications of cellulose pulp, such as caustic extraction or bleaching with hydrogen peroxide of mechanical or chemical pulp.

Not everyone knows that one of the most common products that can be made with soda is the glass. More than 50% of all soda ash produced worldwide is actually used for this purpose. When mixed in proportion with sand and calcium carbonate, heated to the right temperature and then cooled rapidly, the end result is soda-lime silica glass, which can ensure excellent durability and clarity.

In the laboratory, this salt sodium serves as an excellent electrolyte in the electrolysis process. It helps reduce the water content in the clay and makes the task of modeling the clay in the shape of a brick easier. In the dyeing industry, it is used to improve the chemical bond between the dye and the fiber.


Video: pH calculations for salts (May 2022).


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