Soda Ash sodium carbonate | Soda Ash : properties, applications & importance

What is Soda Ash?

The chemical name for Soda ash or washing soda is sodium carbonate which derives its name from the two key chemicals that are sodium and carbonate. Soda ash is primarily sourced from trona ore and is discovered in the form of sediments in sites where evapouration of lakes takes place

The chemical structure of soda ash is (Na+CO)·nH2O, with ‘n’ being the number of molecules per the unit of the formula. Soda ash is one of the most common industrial chemicals and is found in huge organic sediments that is extracted in Wyoming.

How is Soda Ash Prepared?

Solvay process is most commonly used to prepare soda ash (until the Wyoming trona deposits were found). Ammonia and carbon dioxide are run through a soaked or filled solution of sodium chloride in the Solvay process that is kept at a comparatively low temperature. This causes a number of chemical reactions, leading in the development of sodium hydrogen carbonate.

The generated compound is only very marginally soluble in the existence of sodium ions hence the sodium hydrogen carbonate is nearly entirely precipitated. This is thereafter eliminated using the process of filtration and consequently ignited to manufacture soda ash.

There is another process known as the Leblanc process which was the first effective industrial process for generating soda, is not being used today however, it played an important role in the industrial revolution.

Application of Soda Ash:

  • Making of Glass: soda ash is utilised as an ingredient while producing glass during the molten glass shaping procedure. In this process, both silicon dioxide and calcium oxide existing in the raw glass undergo metamorphosis to produce silica, calcium oxide, and sodium carbonate via a sequence of reactions which take place at high temperatures which permits for more effective withdrawal of soda ash from the raw glass.
  • Soap Manufacturing: a variety of laundry detergents are produced with the use of soda ash by the soap manufacturing sector. Soda ash is employed as a component in two important mechanisms – the first one is the methodology in which fats are transformed into fatty acids and glycerol whereas in the second part which is called alkali washing, soda ash is utilised to remove excess glycerol from fatty acids through a procedure known as washing soda ash.
  • Drying Agents in Industrial Equipment: soda ash is also put to use as an aeration or drying means in industrial equipment that is required to be dried after they are cleaned.
  • Dehydrated Foods: soda ash is utilised as a vital component in dehydrated foods and other table salt commodities and is included in numerous food products like crackers and pretzels.
  • Paper Production: soda ash when included in the paper production procedure, improves the intensity of papery pulp by improving its water retaining abilities.
  • Textile Sector: soda ash is commonly used as an ingredient in the production of textile since it performs as a detergent and dye fixing mediator that enhances the life of dyes in textile fibers.
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Interesting Facts About Soda Ash:

  • A substantial quantities of sodium carbonate deposits are found in various regions globally however the key locations consist of the United States, China, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, India, Egypt, South Africa, and Turkey.
  • Soda ash is discovered both as large beds of sodium minerals and as sodium-rich waters or brines.
  • Owing to its applications in the production of glass, chemicals, paper, detergents, and several other commodities, washing soda has considerable economic importance. The product is being used since ancient times.
  • An alkali, soda ash, has a high-level ph in distilled solutions. This chemical can hurt the eyes, breathing tract, and skin. Besides, it should not be consumed or eaten. Light grade, intermediate grade, and dense grade are the three essential grades of soda ash.

Which Countries Produce High Volume of Soda Ash?

The overall worldwide soda ash production was around 59 million metric tonnes in 2021 which included both natural and synthetic soda ash. The total international production volume of soda ash is focused on the United States, China, Europe, and India. The production capability of soda ash is heavily concentrated in China and the United States regulating 60 percent of the entire capacity globally. The demand for imports for the chemical is spread worldwide due to its expanded use in the end use industries.

The five leading countries that import soda ash on the basis of the volume are India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Germany that collectively hold for 44 percent of the international import demand capacity.

Price Evaluation of Soda Ash in Few Regions

On November 30, 2022, the price for the soda ash in China was at CNY 2638 per tonne. Soda ash prices in the United States elevated tremendously in September 2022, being supported by the rising regional offers from the downstream automotive glass producing industry. Soda ash price trend displayed stability in the price momentum in the market of South Korea owing to the disturbances in the supply chains amongst China and South Korea.

European soda ash market showed a stable price trend for quarter 3 of 2022. High production costs and low downstream demand have resulted in the production pressure on the soda ash prices at the end of quarter 3 of 2022 in Germany. In the interim, the depreciation of the European currency against the US dollar led to a cost pressure on the soda ash prices.

Key Players in the Soda Ash Market

  • Searles Valley Minerals (US)
  • Ciner Assets Organization (US)
  • Beginning Vitality LP (US)
  • Solvay (Belgium)
  • Genesis Alkali
  • Tata Chemicals Ltd (India)
  • Shandong Haihua Bunch (China)
  • GHCL Constrained (India)
  • Sisecam Bunch (Turkey)
  • Ciech SA (Poland)
  • Nirma Constrained (India)
  • OCI COMPANY Ltd (South Korea)

As on August 30, 2022, among the above-mentioned players the top three soda ash suppliers are Solvay (USD $9.7 Billion revenue), CINER Group (USD 392 Million revenue), and Genesis Alkali (USD 1.82 Billion revenue).


Procurement Resource analyses that theSoda ash also commonly known as washing soda is sodium carbonate which has derived its name from the two main chemicals – sodium and carbonate. Soda ash is predominantly obtained from trona ore and is found in the variety of sediments in sites where lakes evaporate. Soda ash is created most commonly by using the Salvoy process.  There are several applications of soda ash in industrial production processes such as, making of glass, production of soap, as a drying agent for industrial equipment, dehydrated foods, production of paper, and in textile industry. Countries such as the United States, China, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, India, Egypt, South Africa, and Turkey have the considerable amount of sodium carbonate deposits. The total international production volume of soda ash is focused on the United States, China, Europe, and India. The five prominent countries that import soda ash based on the volume are India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Germany. The market of soda ash largely displayed a steady trend in the quarter 3 of 2022.

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