The Uses of Sodium Carbonate

Describe the uses of sodium carbonate

Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) or commonly known as soda ash is a white, granular or powdered solid. Some of its useful applications include:

  • Manufacture of glass

Sodium carbonate when heated with silica or sand at high temperature (over 1500ºC) decomposes into oxides. These oxides combine with silica to form silicates which is found in glass.

  • Softening hard water and manufacture of soap

The hardness of water increases as the amount of calcium and magnesium ions increases. When soap is in water, the anion in soap reacts with the Ca and Mg ions to produce unwanted grey precipitates or scum. The addition of sodium carbonate in soap will precipitate out the Ca and Mg ions, hence, the soap’s cleaning ability was enhanced.

  • Standard base in volumetric analysis

Volumetric analysis requires a primary standard. Pure, anhydrous sodium carbonate is often used as primary standard in titrations where it can be used to determine the concentration of an acidic solution.

  • Manufacture of sodium hydrogen carbonate

Sodium carbonate when reacted with carbon dioxide produces sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3) which is used as baking soda, in chemical spills and in fire extinguishers.