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Sodium oxide and Water

This article will explain the basics of how sodium hydroxide is made. Sodium hydroxide is a white crystalline substance that readily absorbs carbon dioxide and water. Due to this, it should always be stored safely. The chemical is generally available in forms such as pellets, sticks, chips and also water soluble solutions.

Sodium hydroxide is quite easy to make, though in ancient days the chemical was produced by treating sodium carbonate with lime.
Nowadays, there are various chemical processes involved in its manufacture. A more traditional method of manufacture is roasting sodium carbonate, which as a bi-product releases carbon dioxide and sodium oxide.

The mercury cell process which is more commonly known as the Castner-Kellener process, is one of the most commonly used methods to produce sodium hydroxide. Here, sodium ions are reduced to sodium metal which forms as an amalgam with mercury cathode. When this is dissolved in water, sodium hydroxide is produced.

Another method is the diaphragm cell process. This process uses steel cathode and there is a porous diaphragm which will prevent the reaction of chlorine and sodium hydroxide produced after the process. The brine introduced into the anode is passed to the cathode via this porous diaphragm. This reaction of brine and chlorine will produce a diluted sodium hydroxide.

Membrane cell process is very much similar to the diaphragm cell process, but only differs with Nafion membrane, which is used to separate the cathode and anode reactions. This is the most preferred method of producing sodium hydroxide because it creates huge quantities of NaOH as compared to other methods.

Once the sodium hydroxide is produced, it can be turned into its many forms available for industrial uses, including pellets, beads, flakes and liquids. The chemical is generally available in tech grade and food grade forms.

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