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Sodium Carbonate is an alkali salt also known as soda ash, and its formula is Na2CO3. It is a white or off-white crystalline powder that is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water. It reacts with acids to liberate carbon dioxide and is used in various applications such as manufacture of other sodium compounds, glass, soap, detergents and paper. It is also a useful de-icing agent and is found in many consumer products such as toothpastes, where it acts as both an abrasive and foaming agent.
It is also used in the production of aluminum where it reacts with bauxite to form alumina. In the pulp and paper industry, it is used to control acidity. It is used to neutralize the sulfuric acid needed for the acid delinting of fuzzy cottonseed, and it is also used in brick making to lower clay melting temperatures. It is also a useful chemical for the conversion of magnesium to aluminium.
This chemical is a mild skin and eye irritant, and it can cause respiratory irritation when inhaling fumes. It may also be absorbed through the skin, and it has been reported to have some carcinogenic properties. It has a low acute oral toxicity and is not toxic at high concentrations. It has not been tested on mammals.
Sodium carbonate can be produced from natural minerals such as thermonatrite (sodium carbonate monohydrate; Na2CO3*H2O) and natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate; Na2CO3*10H2O), or it can be manufactured using the traditional Solvay process. This article focuses on the former, but other sources include trona deposits and brines rich in this compound.