Soda ash light, also known as anhydrous sodium carbonate, has a
formula of Na2CO3. It is a white, odorless granular
powder and is soluble in water, giving a strong alkaline aqueous solution. It
is also hygroscopic and absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, causing it to
clump together. It exists mainly in its monohydrated form but there are
decahydrated and heptahydrated forms.
Soda ash light is naturally formed from sodium deposits, which
have been through periods of long geological processes such as erosion of
igneous rocks, transportation of sodium deposits and chemical reactions. Sodium
deposits are first released from the igneous rocks upon weathering. They are
then being washed off, carried down streams and collected in basins. Upon
contact with carbon dioxide, it yields a soda ash light.
In 1861, Belgian chemist Ernest Solvay developed Solvay process,
a more efficient method to convert sodium chloride to soda ash light. In Solvay
process, ammonia reacts with sodium chloride with the aid of calcium carbonate.
Sodium bicarbonate is produced and it is then heated and converted to soda ash
In 1930, Chinese chemist Hou Debang developed the Hou process.
Using carbon dioxide, it is pumped through a saturated solution of sodium
chloride and ammonia to form sodium bicarbonate. The precipitated sodium
bicarbonate is then heated, yielding pure soda ash. The Hou process is clearly
a modified version of the Solvay process and the commonly used method is still
Soda ash light serves as a crucial reactant and is used to
manufacture other sodium containing chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide, sodium
bicarbonate and sodium silicate. Soda ash light is also added to boiling water
to aid in the removal of flesh from skulls and bones effectively. This serves as
an alternative method as compared to the use of insects for bone cleansing.
Soda ash light is used as a water softener in laundering. It
competes with magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and prevents them from
bonding with the detergent used. In addition, it aids in the removal of grease
and wine stains. It is also used as a filter and pH adjuster when control of pH
is crucial in manufacturing processes.
Soda ash light is used in dyeing and is added to ensure proper
bonding of dye with cellulose fibers. This can be done before dyeing, after
dyeing or to be mixed with the dye. It also aids in bleaching and is used
during de-acidification of spun rayon, tencel or hemp. In addition, it is used
to increase the pH of the reaction because an ideal pH is required for the
Soda ash light is used as a pH adjuster in the pulping process
as an accurate and constant control over pH is required for efficiency. It also
serves to neutralize the effluent streams and to process waste paper. In
addition, it softens the wood chips and controls the pH conditions in the pulp