Soda ash is available in three different grades namely dense soda ash, light soda ash, and washing soda. Soda ash light is also called anhydrous sodium carbonate and its formula is Na2CO3. It is a white, odorless granular powder that is soluble in water and forms a strongly alkaline aqueous solution. It is also hygroscopic and absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, causing it to clump together. It exists mainly in its monohydrate form, but in the decahydrate and heptahydrate forms.
Soda ash light sources spontaneously form from sodium deposits, and sodium deposits have undergone long-term geological processes such as igneous rock erosion, sodium sediment transport, and chemical reactions. Under weathering, sodium deposits are first released from igneous rocks. Then they were washed off, flowed down, and collected in the basin. When exposed to carbon dioxide, it produces soda ash.
In 1861, Belgian chemist Ernest Solvay developed the Solvay process, a more efficient method to convert sodium chloride to soda ash light. In the 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 light.
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 the Solvay process.
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 lights are used as water softeners in washing machines. It competes with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water, preventing them from combining with the detergent used. In addition, it helps to remove grease and wine stains. It is also used as a filter and pH regulator when controlling the pH is critical in the manufacturing process.
Soda ash light is used for dyeing and added to ensure proper adhesion of the dyes to the cellulosic fibers. This can be done before dyeing, after dyeing, or before mixing with the dye. It also helps to bleach and is used for the de-acidification of spun rayon, tencel, or hemp. In addition, it is used to increase the pH of the reaction because the dyeing process requires an ideal pH value.
Soda ash light is used as a pH adjuster in the pulping process because of the need for precise and constant pH control to increase efficiency. It also helps neutralize the waste stream and dispose of waste paper. In addition, it softens the wood chips and controls the pH conditions during pulp cooking.