The Principal Uses of Sodium Hydroxide In Various Industries

Published: 06th June 2009
Views: N/A

Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda, is of importance to not one but various industries. Its chemical formula is NaOH and it is described as an odorless, white crystalline substance. It is available, commercially, either in solid form like sticks, pellets, and chips, or in the form of solution in water with different concentrations.

Originally, caustic soda is used in the manufacture of soap but it has become valuable in many other industries over time. In chemical manufacturing, for instance, it is helpful in pH control, acid neutralization, and off-gas scrubbing. Another notable use of the substance is in the manufacture of cleaning agents such as oven cleaners and drain cleaners, which are common household products. Usually, clogged pipes are with a mixture of fats and grease. What happens is that those cleaners that contain caustic soda turn the fats to soap, which dissolves in water. Moreover, heat is given off when the substance dissolves in water and the heat produced aids in melting the clog.

Another industry where caustic soda is valuable is the paper industry, and it is because the substance helps separate cellulose fibers from lignin. The freed cellulose fibers can then be formed into paper. Likewise, it helps bleach paper to achieve its required whiteness and brightness. The petroleum and natural gas industry, on the other hand, make use of the substance in removing acidic contaminants in gas and oil processing.

But did you know that sodium hydroxide is also used in the food industry? Yes, it is used in processes such as poultry scalding and chemical peeling of fruits and vegetables. It is likewise used in caramel coloring production and chocolate and cocoa processing. Furthermore, it is specifically of use in the production of a Scandinavian delicacy called lutefisk, which means lye fish. The substance is also responsible for the gelling of egg whites in the production of Century eggs. And, did you know that most yellow-colored Chinese noodles are made with lye-water, which are usually mistaken for containing egg?

Caustic soda or lye is also valuable in mining, textile processing, metal processing, rubber reclamation, glass making, water treatment, cotton mercerizing and scouring, and metal degreasing.

But of course, great care must be taken when storing and using the substance. When it is swallowed, it may result to severe burns of mouth, throat, and stomach, severe scarring of tissue, and death. Caustic soda ingestion symptoms include vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, and fall in blood pressure. When it comes into contact with the skin and eyes, it may cause irritation, severe burns, permanent impairment of vision, and even blindness.

To avoid these, proper measures must be taken with regards to its storage and use. Its storage area must be cool and dry, and it must be kept away from strong acids, metals, and water. There must be adequate ventilation when using the substance. Wearing protective equipment is also important. To protect your eyes, wear protective eyeglasses or chemical safety goggles. To prevent it from coming into contact with your skin, wear protective gloves and clothing. First aid measures can also be given if an accident with regards to the use of the substance happens. When someone swallows it, for instance, large quantities of water or milk must be given to the victim. When it comes into contact with the skin, flush the skin with a lot of water for at least 15 minutes. The same thing must be done to the affected eyes when it comes into contact with the eyes.

Sodium hydroxide is truly an important chemical, with the many industries that make use of it to manufacture certain products, especially those that we get to use in our day-to-day living.

Jo is an author and publisher for 'ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd' (, a well-known UK stationed chemical manufacturer that produces, has a supply of and sells a huge range of premium chemicals. If your business is searching for superior quality chemical product such as Sodium Hydroxide or has other industrial compound requirements for applications like chemical fusion, analytical uses and cleaning then check out ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd.

Video Source: Youtube

Report this article Ask About This Article

More to Explore