What is Soda Ash

soda ash uses

Soda Ash is commonly called as sodium carbonate and it’s a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It is a significant economic importance chemical because of its applications in manufacturing glass, chemicals, paper, detergents and many other products. For soda ash uses information go to Applications tab.

Soda ash commonly occurs in naturally in three different forms of hydrates such as sodium carbonate decahydrate (Natron), sodium carbonate heptahydrate and sodium carbonate monohydrate (thermonatrite).Soda Ash light is a monohydrate form of soda ash. It is manufactured mainly in Europe. It differs from soda ash dense only in physical characteristics such as bulk density, particle size and shape.

Properties of Soda Ash

  • Soda ash is a white, anhydrous, powdered or granular material containing more than 99% sodium carbonate.
  • Soda ash is hygroscopic in nature and forms a strong alkaline water solution.
  • It is an alkali solution that has a high pH in concentrated solutions.
  • Soda ash decomposes on heating at high temperature. Anhydrous sodium carbonate loses weight when heated due to dissociation and volatilization.
  • Sodium carbonate occurs in three hydrate forms such as sodium carbonate monohydrate, heptahydrate and decahydrate.
  • Sodium carbonate is readily soluble in water.
manufacturing industry

Manufacturing Process

Production of Soda Ash Mining Trona, trisodium hydrogendicarbonate dihydrate (Na3HCO3CO3·2H2O) is mined in several areas. It provides all the domestic consumption of sodium carbonate. Leblanc process Leblanc process is used for producing sodium carbonate from salt, sulphuric, limestone, and coal. Sea salt is boiled in sulphuric acid to yield sodium sulphate and hydrogen chloride gas. Sodium sulphate is blended with crushed limestone (calcium carbonate) and coal for producing soda ash in small scale production.

2 NaCl + H2SO4 → Na2SO4 + 2 HCl Na2SO4 + CaCO3 + 2 C → Na2CO3 + 2 CO2 + CaS

Solvay process

In 1861, the Belgian industrial chemist Ernest Solvay patented a method to convert sodium chloride to sodium carbonate using ammonia. Solvay process is a most economically dominative process than Leblanc process. Approximately 90% of sodium carbonate is commercially produced by the Solvay process.

CaCO3 → CaO + CO2 NaCl + NH3 + CO2 + H2O → NaHCO3 + NH4Cl 2 NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

Hou’s process

In 1930, the Chinese chemist Hou Debang developed a Hou’s process. Used steam reforming byproduct carbon dioxide is pumped through a saturated solution of sodium chloride and ammonia to produce sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is collected and then heated to yield high purity sodium carbonate like Solvay process.

NH3 + CO2 + H2O → NH4HCO3 NH4HCO3 + NaCl → NH4Cl + NaHCO3

lab tubes soda ash

The Uses of Soda Ash

Soap and Detergent Industry Soda ash is an important ingredient in soaps and detergents. Therefore, it functions as a builder in the formulation of the soap or detergent, to achieve the desired level of soil removal. It is also beneficial as an agglomerating aid, as it acts as the carrier for surfactants. It is also the source of alkalinity for pH adjustment.

Food Industry Soda Ash is widely used in the food industry as an acidity regulator, anti-caking agent and as a stabilizer.

Chemical Industry Light soda ash is used in the production of many chemicals. It is a source of sodium ions in the production of sodium phosphates, sodium carbonate, sodium silicates, chrome chemicals and photographic chemicals.

Other Applications Soda Ash is used as an electrolyte as it a good conductor and hence can be used in electrolysis. It is also used in small scale dyeing industries. It ensures chemical bonding of the dye to the cellulose fibres.

EMERGENCY OVERVIEW: CAUTION! MAY CAUSE EYE, SKIN AND RESPIRATORY TRACT IRRITATION. Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing. Avoid breathing airborne product. Keep container closed. Use with adequate ventilation. Wash thoroughly after handling. Amber white powder. Slippery when wet. A nuisance dust.

Health hazards, general: Particulates may cause mechanical irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Particulate inhalation may lead to pulmonary fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Dermatitis and asthma may result from short contact periods.
Inhalation: May be irritating to the respiratory tract if inhaled.
Ingestion: May cause gastric distress, nausea and vomiting if ingested.
Skin: May be irritating to the skin.


CAS No497-19-8
H.S. Code2836.20.00
SynonymSodium Carbonate


Na2CO399.2(min) %
NaCl 0.70(max) %
Na2SO4 0.04(max) %
Fe2O30.004(min) %
Loss on heating 0.80(max) %
Water insoluable 0.04(max) %