Sodium Carbonate

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Definition - What does Sodium Carbonate mean?

Sodium carbonate is an inorganic compound containing a sodium salt of carbonic acid and has an alkaline taste. Its chemical formula is Na2CO3.

Sodium carbonate is primarily used as a cleaning agent. Its other uses are in the glass and brick industries as well as being a common additive, bonding agent and electrolyte.

Sodium carbonate is corrosive to plastics and some metals like aluminum, lead, zinc and zinc brasses.

Sodium carbonate is also known as washing soda and soda ash.

Corrosionpedia explains Sodium Carbonate

Sodium carbonate is the sodium salt of carbonic acid possessing an alkaline property. Sodium carbonate forms carbonic acid and sodium hydroxide in water. It reacts with water vapor above 400 °C (752 °F) to form sodium hydroxide and carbon dioxide. It absorbs moisture and carbon dioxide from the air to form sodium bicarbonate.

Some common uses for sodium carbonate:

  • Adsorbents and absorbents
  • Water softening
  • Laundry detergent additive to lather more effectively
  • Bleaching agents
  • Fillers
  • Finishing agents
  • Intermediates
  • Pigments
  • Processing aids, specific to petroleum production
  • Solids separation agents
  • Solvents

Sodium carbonate can attack both metals and non-metals. Its solutions (35% concentration) are corrosive to aluminum, lead, and zinc and zinc brasses at 21 °C (69.8 °F). Its solid form is corrosive to aluminum at 100% relative humidity and normal temperatures. Its solutions are not corrosive to other common metals, like stainless steel, carbon steel, nickel cast iron, nickel and nickel-base alloys.

Sodium carbonate solutions also attack some plastics, such as polyacrylates and polysulfides. Its solutions do not attack acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), nylon, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Teflon, other fluorocarbons and some elastomers.

Sodium carbonate can cause caustic embrittlement and disbondment to materials and it can be used as a scale inhibitor in boiler feed water.

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