Sodium Silicate

Everything You Need to Know about Sodium Silicate

Sodium metasilicate or sodium silicate, as it is primarily called, is a flaked, inorganic, powdered and solid substance or sodium salt. It consists of silicate in the form of a counter ion. The other name for this solution is Waterglass. This solid powdered substance is water-soluble, and when dissolved in water, it produces alkaline solutions. 

The solution consists of the polymeric anion. It tends to be completely stable in neutral and alkaline solutions. However, the case is entirely different when it is about using sodium silicate in varied acidic solutions. In that case, the hydrogen ions react with the silicate ions, thus giving rise to the silicic acids. These acids further get broken into hydrated silicon. When heated further, the solution gets rid of water and results in the production of silica gel which is a hard and translucent substance. This substance is used on an extensive scale in the form of a desiccant. It has the potential of withstanding temperatures up to 1100°C.

Sodium Silicate Properties

Sodium silicate is crystalline and colourless glassy solid. It can even be defined as a white powder. Sodium silicates that are high in their content of silicon can easily dissolve in water. Some of the most specific chemical and physical properties of sodium silicate include:

  • Count of hydrogen bond acceptors: 3

  • Molar mass or molecular weight: 122.062 g/mol

  • Count of the covalent bonds: 3

  • Complexity: 18.8

Sodium Silicate Formula

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This image depicts the formula and structure of sodium silicate. 

Sodium silicate chemical formula is Na2SiO3. It is the generic name and formula given to the majority of the chemical solutions.

Sodium Silicate Solution

Sodium silicate solution, which is also called Waterglass appears in the form of a highly versatile and inorganic chemical. You can prepare the Sodium silicate liquid by the combination of soda ash and sand at a very high temperature. Here soda ash is sodium carbonate, and its ration is adjusted with that of sand for yielding different types of products featuring exclusive functionalities. These products are widely used in different consumer and industrial product applications.

Is sodium silicate toxic? You must know that it is a non-explosive, non-toxic and non-flammable solution. However, it is an alkaline material, and therefore it had good chances of posing a danger to the eyes and the skin. The physiological issues that are produced due to the contact of sodium silicate might vary according to the alkalinity of the different silicates contained or involved. The problems might range from causing severe chemical burns to irritation.

Sodium Silicate Uses

Sodium silicate board application is widely popular across the market. The largest use of this solution is in the production of cardboard. Other uses of sodium silicate include:

  • It is used at wastewater treatment units in the form of an iron flocculant and even as alum coagulant.

  • Sodium silicate finds usage in the form of a fixative in the hand dyeing procedure.

  • It is used for the preservation of food and even in aquaculture and home-brewing.

  • Sodium silicate is also in use in the field of pottery.

Sodium Silicate Medical Uses

While not being directly used for medicinal purposes, sodium silicate along with other silicates serve as one of the essential ingredients in instant wrinkle removal creams. It is also used in products used for tightening the skin or for minimising the appearance of under-eye bags and wrinkles. Sodium silicate, when used in creams and lotions, can offer dramatic results. But it is to be noted that the fantastic results obtained from the use of this solution in different skincare products are not permanent. They are just for some hours. Sodium silicate, when used in creams and skincare products, works as water-cement. The moment the muscle starts moving; the solution starts cracking and thus leaves a white residue on the user’s skin.

Sodium silicate products are ideal for the treatment of concrete in the majority of the masonry products. It helps in minimising porosity in plasters, concrete and stucco. The effect further helps in reducing the penetration of water. Sodium silicate has also been used in the form of an egg preservative for several years. 

Users have been successful with this. The other uses of sodium silicate are as follows:

  • A combination of sawdust and sodium silicate is used between the skin layers of safes. It makes them fire-resistant.

  • Sodium silicate finds usage in repairing mufflers along with fitting paste. When dissolved in water, it forms a very thick paste that you can easily apply on repairs.

  • Sodium silicate is used in the form of a sand binder when carrying out the sand casting procedure of steel or iron.

  • It is used in different detergent auxiliaries like complex and modified sodium disilicate.

  • It is also ideal for drilling fluids for making the borehole walls stable so that they do not collapse.

  • You can use it in the form of a substrate for the growth of algal in different aquaculture hatcheries.

All in all, there are large scale general and medicinal uses of sodium silicate. This widely used solution and salt make various scientific procedures simple and effective.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How is Sodium Silicate Produced? 

It is quite easy to produce sodium silicate. It is generally prepared in reactors simply by treating a blend of water, caustic soda and silica along with scorching steam. This results in a reaction that goes like this:

2 NaOH + SiO2 → (Na2O) x·SiO2 + x H2O

If, at 851°C, you dissolve SiO2 or silica in Na2CO3 in molten form, you can easily prepare sodium metasilicate.

2. What are the Health Hazards Associated with the Use of Sodium Silicate?

It is a potent and strong irritant. Close contact with the solution can result in the irritation of the mucous membranes, skin and eyes. This inorganic and colourless salt, when ingested can result in heavy toxicity. The solution, when inhaled can result in burning sensation, breathing difficulty, coughing and sore throat.