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About Soda Ash

Soda ash, the trade name for sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), is a white, anhydrous, powdered or granular material. It is an essential raw material used in the manufacturing of glass, detergents chemicals and other industrial products.

As such, soda ash is one of the most widely used and important commodities in the United States, contributing substantially to the gross domestic product. For this reason, the Federal Reserve Board incorporates monthly soda ash production data into monthly economic indicators used to monitor the condition of the U.S. economy.

Sodium carbonate has been used in manufacturing for over 5,000 years. Ancient Egyptians used it to make glass ornaments and vessels. They recovered the product from dry lake-bed deposits or by burning seaweed and other marine plants. The Romans also used soda ash for baking bread, making glass and for medicinal purposes. Its extraction from the ashes of various plants continued until the middle of the 19th century and gave it the present-day name of "soda ash".

Today, "natural soda ash" refined from the mineral trona is regarded as the standard for quality and purity and is also processed from sodium-carbonate-bearing brines. The Green River Basin of Wyoming is the world's largest area for naturally-occurring trona. There is also "synthetic soda ash", which is manufactured using a number of different chemical processes.

Soda ash is made in three main grades - light, medium and dense. These have the same chemical properties and only differ in physical characteristics, such as bulk density and particle size and shape (which affect flow characteristics and angle of repose).

When companies process and produce soda ash, a number of other sodium compounds are made as co-products, including sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda), sodium sulfite, sodium tripolyphosphate, and chemical caustic soda.

Product usage

Soda ash is an essential raw material used in many applications such as the manufacture of glass, detergents and soaps, chemicals and many other industrial processes.

General chemical properties of soda ash

Chemical Name Sodium Carbonate
Molecular Weight 105.989
Melting Point 851oC
1564oF
Specific Gravity20o/4oC 2.533
Specific Heat25oC 0.249 cal/gm/oC
77oF 0.249 Btu/lb/oC
45oC 0.256 cal/gm/oC
Heat of Fusion854oC 75.5 cal/gm
135.9 Btu/lb
Heat of Formation25oC -2550 cal/gm
-4590 Btu/lb
Heat of HydrationMonohydrate, Na2CO3 • H2O 30.0 cal/gm Na2CO3
54.0 Btu/lb Na2CO3
Heptahydrate, Na2CO3 • 7H2O 156.4 cal/gm Na2CO3
281.5 Btu/lb Na2CO3
Decahydrate, Na2CO3 • 10H2O 208.8 cal/gm Na2CO3
375.8 Btu/lb Na2CO3
Solubility0oC 7 gms Na2CO3 in 100 gms H2O
100oC 44.7 gms Na2CO3 in 100 gms H2O
35.37oC (max.) 49.5 gms Na2CO3 in 100 gms H2O
Alkali equivalent 100 % Na2CO3 = 58.48 % Na2O
Acid equivalent 1 lb Na2CO3 = 0.6881 lb HCl

Sources: Tata Chemicals North America Inc., Mineral Information Institute, Ciner Resource Corporation, U.S. Geological Survey