What is caustic soda flakes?
Technical sodium hydroxide flakes obtained by evaporating liquid caustic soda are also called caustic soda. It is used in chemical synthesis methods, processing of oil products, textile manufacturing in silk production and in bleaching fabrics, paper industry, soap production, aluminium and metal production.
Caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, is an inorganic alkali salt which is hygroscopic in nature and is soluble in both water and a polar solvent. It is mainly used in textiles in the form of caustic soda flakes or pearls. It has a slippery feel and absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to form sodium carbonate. The chemical formula for caustic soda flakes is NaOH.
Being a basic compound, it undergoes a neutralization reaction with acid and forms the corresponding salt and water. It will also corrode metals such as aluminium, producing hydrogen gas which behaves as an explosive gas. Caustic soda has a decomposing effect on proteins and may penetrate deep tissues, hence caution must be exercised when handling.
There are few methods of the manufacturing process or how to make caustic flakes, which by metathesis reaction and chloralkali process.
By reacting sodium carbonate with calcium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and calcium carbonate is produced. These products can be easily separated by filtration as calcium carbonate is not soluble whereas sodium hydroxide is highly soluble. The solution will then be purified, processed, and standardized for industrial consumption.
With the electrolysis of sodium chloride solution, solid sodium hydroxide is manufactured and obtained with the evaporation of water. Chlorine gas is also produced as the main by-product. This is done through three main types of cells, mainly mercury cell, diaphragm cell, and the membrane cell.
Caustic soda is used in the manufacturing of textiles. Caustic soda is used in the scouring process, mercerization process, as well as the dyeing process. During the process of scouring, it aids the removal of natural oil, wax, and fat. During the process of mercerization, it aids in improving the tensile strength, smoothness, and dye substantively of the cellulosic. Caustic soda also serves as a pH regulator and controls the pH of the dyeing bath, which is required to be precise and constantly maintained throughout the process.
Caustic soda is used in the pulp and paper industry during the cooking process and oxygen delignification process. Both sulfate and sulfite pulps are purified by removing lignin compounds in the caustic extraction stages of multistage bleach plants. In some kraft mills, caustic soda is also used as a makeup chemical. It is also used as the initial treatment in deinking secondary fibers.
It is also used to manufacture soap and detergents, applied during the saponification process in the soap industry and neutralization process in the detergent industry. Caustic soda saponifies fats into water-soluble sodium-based soaps.
In addition, caustic soda helps to extract alumina from bauxite ore via the Bayer process and is employed to produce an array of organic and inorganic chemicals.