Sodium Carbonate/ Na2Co3: Complete Amazing Overview

With the chemical formula Na2CO3, sodium carbonate, sometimes referred to as soda ash or washing soda, is an inorganic substance. Na2CO3 is a white, odorless, hygroscopic, and water-soluble solid that can be produced chemically or occurs naturally in mineral deposits. In many different industries, such as glass production, chemical synthesis, water treatment, and as a cleaning agent in household items, sodium carbonate is essential. Due to its potent basic properties and capacity to balance acidic substances, it is crucial in these applications. Additionally, it is extremely adaptable for a variety of tasks due to its solubility in water.

In the past, various plants, including seaweed and some saltwort plants, had their ashes extracted and used to make sodium carbonate. Due to its derivation from “soda” or “soda plant,” this technique gave the substance the common name “soda ash.” Modern industrial techniques have, however, made it more common and financially viable to produce sodium carbonate synthetically.

Polar or Non-polar?

It is a polar substance. It is made up of carbonate anions (CO32-) and sodium cations (Na+). Due to its two additional electrons, the carbonate ion is a polyatomic ion with a trigonal planar shape and a net negative charge. The carbonate ion is polar due to its charge distribution.

The electron density in Na2CO3 is unevenly distributed, with half the sides having a partial positive charge and half having a partially negative charge. As a result, the molecule develops a dipole moment and acquires polar properties that improve its capacity to dissolve in water and function as a potent base. They may interact with other polar compounds due to their polar nature, which makes them valuable in a variety of applications.

Na3CO3 Properties:

Because of these characteristics, sodium carbonate is a valuable chemical component used in many industrial operations, including the production of detergents, water softening, pH adjustment, and as a cleaning and stain-removal agent. It is an adaptable chemical with a wide range of uses in various industries owing to its alkaline nature and reactivity with acids.

  1. Melting Point: The decahydrate form melts at about 851°C and loses its water of crystallization, whereas the anhydrous form melts at around 851°C.
  2. Solubility: Sodium carbonate is very soluble in water and becomes more soluble as the temperature rises.
  3. pH Level: It generates a basic solution with a high pH, usually between 11 and 12, when dissolved in water.
  4. Decomposition: At high temperatures, it breaks down into carbon dioxide (CO2) and sodium oxide (Na2O).
  5. Efflorescence: When sodium carbonate decahydrate (washing soda) is exposed to dry air, a process known as efflorescence occurs when the crystallization water is lost and the sodium carbonate becomes anhydrous.
  6. Density: Their anhydrous form has a density of about 2.54 g/cm³.


Here, we’ll go over two of the most typical industrial procedures involved in producing it. Both processes produce high-quality sodium carbonate, that is used in many industrial applications, including glass production, detergents, water treatment, and other products.

Solvay Process:

The raw materials required are ammonia, carbon dioxide, and sodium chloride. The steps involved in the Solvay process are as follows:

  • Ammonium bicarbonate (NH4HCO3) is created when ammonia gas (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are combined in a scrubber tower.

NH3 + CO2 + H2O → NH4HCO3

  • The ammonium bicarbonate solution is combined with a concentrated solution of sodium chloride (brine) in a different reactor. As a result, ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) are produced as byproducts.

NH4HCO3 + NaCl → NaHCO3 + NH4Cl

  • The sodium bicarbonate that was formed in the previous phase is precipitated from the solution, leaving ammonium chloride in the solution.
  • It is then heated in a rotary kiln or fluidized bed calciner to drive off carbon dioxide and water, converting the precipitated sodium bicarbonate to anhydrous sodium carbonate.

2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

  • The ammonia released during the decomposition of ammonium bicarbonate is recovered and recycled back to the system to be used again.

Trona Ore Mining and Processing:

  • Trona is a naturally occurring mineral that also includes various salts and sodium carbonate. The following is the procedure for removing sodium carbonate from trona.
  • Conventional mining methods are used to collect trona ore from underground mines, and the ore is then crushed into smaller pieces and cleaned to remove impurities.
  • After being washed, the trona ore is burned in rotary kilns to drive off the water and carbon dioxide, turning it into basic soda ash.

Na2CO3·NaHCO3·2H2O → Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

  • The crude soda ash obtained from the calcination process is dissolved in water, and the solution is filtered.
  • The purified solution of Na2CO3 is then allowed to cool and crystallize, forming pure sodium carbonate crystals.
  • The sodium carbonate crystals are dried and packaged for distribution and commercial use.

Chemical Reactions:

The chemical formula of sodium carbonate is Na2CO3, and it is an alkaline compound with a variety of chemical reactions. Here are some important chemical reactions involving sodium carbonate:

  • Reaction with Calcium Hydroxide:

When sodium carbonate reacts with calcium hydroxide (limewater), it forms calcium carbonate (chalk) and NaOH:

Ca(OH)2 + Na2CO3 → 2NaOH + CaCO3

  • Reaction with Water:

Na2CO3 readily dissolves in water to form an alkaline solution, commonly known as soda ash solution. In this reaction, sodium carbonate reacts with water to produce sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and carbon dioxide gas.

Na2CO3 + H2O → 2NaOH + CO2

  • Reaction with Acid:

Sodium carbonate reacts with acid (HCl) to produce salt, carbon dioxide, and water.

Na2CO3 + 2HCl → CO2 + H2O + 2NaCl

  • Reaction with Calcium Chloride:

Na2CO3 reacts with CaCl2 to produce calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and salt.

CaCl2 + Na2CO3 → 2NaCl + CaCO3

  • Reaction with Ammonium Chloride:

Na2CO3 reaction with ammonium chloride to produces salt, ammonia gas, and carbon dioxide:

Na2CO3 + 2NH4Cl → 2NH3 + 2NaCl + CO2 + H2O

  • Reaction with Sulfuric Acid:

When Na2CO3 reacts with H2SO4 then they form CO2, H2O, and sodium sulfate.

H2SO4 + Na2CO3 → CO2 + Na2SO4 + H2O

  • Thermal Decomposition:

Na2CO3 can undergo decomposition when heated to produce Na2O, CO2, and H2O vapors.

Na2CO3 → CO2 + Na2O+ H2O


Due to its alkaline and cleansing qualities, Na2CO3 has a wide range of uses in numerous industries and daily life. These uses illustrate the value of sodium carbonate in numerous sectors and its contribution to the improved performance of common goods.

  1.  Antacid Properties: Mildly antacid sodium carbonate was once an over-the-counter treatment for heartburn and indigestion due to its antacid characteristics. However, safer and more potent antacid drugs are now widely utilized because of its potential negative effects.
  2. Water Treatment: Sodium carbonate is utilized in water treatment procedures to modify pH levels and get rid of acidic contaminants. Additionally, it can aid in the coagulation and flocculation of suspended particles, which makes water filtration easier.
  3. Cleaning and washing: Sodium carbonate is a common component of cleaning and laundry detergents. It works as a water softener, assisting in the elimination of mineral stains and deposits from clothing and surfaces. It is a crucial ingredient in household cleaning products since it is efficient at removing grease, oil, and filth.
  4. Paper and Pulp firm: Sodium carbonate is used in the pulping and bleaching processes in the paper and pulp industry. It makes it simpler to generate high-quality paper by aiding in the breakdown of lignin and other impurities in wood fibers.
  5. Food Industry: Sodium carbonate, also referred to as E500, is utilized as a food additive. It serves as a buffering agent to control food products’ acidity. Additionally, it is used to improve the flavor and texture of some foods, such as noodles and pretzels.
  6. pH Buffer: Sodium carbonate is employed as a pH buffer in numerous chemical processes and laboratory applications due to its alkaline nature. It contributes to the maintenance of a constant pH level, avoiding abrupt fluctuations in acidity or alkalinity.
  7. Glass Manufacturing: A crucial ingredient in the glass industry is sodium carbonate. It serves as a flux in the manufacture of glass, lowering the melting point of silica to facilitate shaping and molding. It also helps in reducing the overall energy consumption during the glassmaking process.
  8. Water Softening Agent: Sodium carbonate is used in water softeners to remove minerals that contribute to hardness, such as calcium and magnesium ions. It prolongs the life of pipes and appliances by preventing the buildup of limescale.
  9. pH Adjuster in Swimming Pools: To maintain the water’s pH levels within the range that is ideal for safe and comfortable swimming, sodium carbonate is employed in swimming pools.
  10. pH Regulator in Personal Care Products: Na2CO3  is utilized as a pH regulator in many personal products used for care including shampoos, bath products, and cosmetics to maintain the ideal pH level for healthy skin and hair. It can function in biological systems as a pH buffer.
  11. Metal Cleaning and Degreasing: In industrial applications, sodium carbonate is used as a degreasing agent to clean metal surfaces. It helps to remove oils, greases, and other contaminants from metal parts before further processing or coating.

Is Na2CO3 a food additive?

In some instances, it is utilized as a food additive. It can function as a leavening agent in baking, assisting with dough rising and giving baked items a fluffy texture.

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