Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
About 50 million years ago, volcanic activity, decaying plant matter & climate change caused the evaporation of large lakes, leaving behind natural deposits of Trona containing Sodium Carbonate & Bicarbonate.
The use of soda ash dates to about 3500 B.C. when Egyptians used it to make glass ornaments.
It’s fair to say it has passed the test of time! Its versatility was discovered long, long ago & it still has many applications today
It is a white granular powder material. It is anhydrous which means it contains no water. It is an essential raw material used in the manufacturing of glass, detergents, chemicals and other industrial products.
WHAT IS THE CHEMICAL FORMULA?
Na = Sodium C = Carbon O = Oxygen
WHAT IS THE pH LEVEL?
Washing Soda has a pH level around 11 making this a highly alkaline ingredient.
WHAT ELSE IS IT KNOWN BY?
Washing Soda, Soda Ash, Sodium Carbonate, Soda Crystals, E500
Naturally Harvested: In certain parts of the world, natural underground deposits are formed from dried up reciprocated lakes. Using a simple filtering & refining process, water is pumped underground to bring up the brine containing the Trona (a mix of sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and water). Its then filtered, separated and different grades are awarded based on density.
Synthetically made: Synthetic soda ash is made using either the Solvay or Hou process and contains several different chemicals. Both methods leave behind by-products and require either seaside discharge or waste beds to catch leftover impurities. These impurities have led to water pollution and overall deterioration of the surrounding environment.
Here are a range of uses for the amazing ingredient, confirming how versatile it is
CLEAN POTS & PANS: Keep adding Washing Soda to hot/boiling water until it can no longer dissolve, then soak pots & pans overnight.
DISH WASHING: Replace synthetic detergents & add make your own dishwashing powder using Washing Soda, Coconut Soap Flakes & Borax. You can use this in the sink or in an automatic dishwasher.
OVEN CLEANER: Make a paste with Bicarb, Borax, Coconut Soap Flakes & Essential Oils. Spread mix inside oven & on trays. Let sit until dry & then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
SANITISER: Soak mops, dishcloths & even bins in a solution of water & washing soda to remove any nasty smells.
LAUNDRY POWDER: Combine with Borax, Bicarb & Coconut Soap Flakes for a natural laundry powder.
NATURAL BLEACH: Combine with some hydrogen peroxide to make your own Sodium Percarbonate (Oxybleach) CARE: Do not store.
STAIN REMOVER: Make a paste with Borax & Bicarb & apply to stain, soak overnight then wash as normal.
TOILET CLEANER: Flush some washing soda down the toilet to clean, freshen & help prevent blockage.
TILE & GROUT: Use with hot water to clean ceramic or vinyl tiles. Make a paste to clean grout.
UPHOLSTERY & CARPETS: Dab upholstery with a mild solution of washing soda & water to get rid of stains or simply to freshen up the fabric. CARE: do not use on wool
BBQ: Make a paste with Bicarb & table salt to remove built up grease.
IN THE GARDEN: Treat green fly, mildew & black spot. Use to freshen citrus plants
A short video from the Wyoming Cultural Geology teaching us about how natural washing soda is formed & mined. Mining a natural resource like this is not without a carbon footprint, however compared to the synthetic alternatives it may prove less hazardous for the future.
Sorry about the very dry robotic voice in this clip, but this shows you the process of manufacturing synthetic washing soda. As you can see it requires a number of raw minerals which also need to be mined & processed.
So where does all the washing soda go? As you can see the bulk of it is used to make glass, a wonderful recyclable & reusable product - but also used in making soaps & detergents.