Uses of Sodium Hydroxide

Dhristi JEE 2022-24

Sodium Hydroxide Uses

Sodium hydroxide is one of the most widely used chemicals in industries. It is commonly called caustic soda and lye. It is an alkaline form of sodium oxide. In this section, we will learn the different uses of sodium hydroxide in different domains. We will also study the physical and chemical properties of this alkaline compound so that you can easily understand why it is used in particular cases. Study the sodium hydroxide used in an organized way so that you can conveniently answer the relevant questions in the board exam.

What is Sodium Hydroxide or Caustic Soda?

You have studied the different types of alkaline substances. One of the most commonly used alkalis in industries is Sodium Hydroxide. Its chemical formula is NaOH. It shows one sodium atom is linked with a hydroxyl ion to form this alkali. Sodium is a very reactive metal. It burns in contact with water. The vigorous reaction produces an immense amount of heat. Hence, it is produced in a safer way in chemical industries and laboratories.

The two uses of sodium hydroxide in our daily life are as a cleaner and for making soap. You will find a plethora of uses of this alkali in different other aspects. Let us study its physical and chemical properties briefly before we learn how sodium hydroxide is used in different ways.

Physical Properties of Sodium Hydroxide

  • The purest form is colorless and crystalline.

  • The melting point of sodium hydroxide is 318 °C.

  • The boiling point is 1388 °C.

  • It forms an aqueous solution readily but sparingly soluble in methanol and ethanol (polar organic solvents).

  • It is deliquescent in nature as it absorbs moisture from the air.

Chemical Properties of Sodium Hydroxide

  • It reacts with acids vigorously to form salts and water.

  • It reacts with glass and results in the formation of soluble silicates. This is why it is stored in bottles made of a non-reactive material.

  • Sodium hydroxide reacts with other salts of metals occurring in the lower position in the electrochemical series such as copper, iron, etc.

  • Sodium hydroxide is also used for saponification reactions.

Uses of Sodium Hydroxide

Let us now concentrate on the main topic of this section. Here is the list of the uses of NaOH Class 10 you will find useful. Find an elaborate description of the uses.

  1. Manufacturing of Soap

Here, we will learn how sodium hydroxide is used to make soap. It is one of the prime constituents of the soap manufacturing process. It is also called Lye. When its solution is mixed with fats and oils, it results in a chemical reaction called saponification. The fats and oils are made of organic acids. These acids react with sodium in the alkaline solution to form esters or organic salts. These organic salts are the prime constituents of soaps we use every day.

  1. Home Applications

One of the prime uses of caustic soda in daily life is cleansing. It is a corrosive solution that can easily clean different utensils and tools without any hassle. In fact, many cleaning products contain sodium hydroxide. It is recommended not to use it directly with bare hands.

The best examples of caustic soda used at home are drain cleaners, oven cleaners, tile cleaners, etc. It can easily remove fat, grease, grime, etc from the trickiest corners of the floor, kitchen tops, and appliances. The cleaning process becomes very simple. By just simply using a sponge and the solution, you can bring back the lost charm of appliances, unblock a drain, and make your kitchen look fresh. It is excellently used to unclog pipes. These products help us to keep our homes clean and keep the pests away.

  1. Industrial Uses

The sodium hydroxide used in industries is diverse. It is also used for different reactions done in laboratories as well. In the pharmaceutical industry, sodium hydroxide is used to formulate different kinds of medicines that are used for various purposes. These medicines deliver excellent therapeutic effects in the form of sodium salts too. In the paper industry, caustic soda is used to make pulp and manufacture paper. Sodium hydroxide is used to manufacture aluminium products in the aluminium industry. It is also used in making soaps, detergents, surfactants, etc.

  1. How Sodium Hydroxide Solution is Used?

The sodium hydroxide solution is used in other industries. In the food industry, it is used to make German lye rolls and used for baking purposes. The uses of NaOH Class 10 solution can also be found in the bakeries and confectioneries. In fact, the solution also helps us to remove dyes and other harmful chemicals from vegetables, fruits, etc. It is also used in producing different edible colours and for processing chocolate, cocoa, etc. The solution is used for thickening ice creams, softening olives, and to make soft drinks.

The uses of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) are vast and extensive. It is essential to chemical engineering for the production of soda ash from the salt water of mineral springs, the regeneration of caustic soda or soap with sodium hydroxide, as well as a range of industrial applications from food additives to laundry detergents.

It is a potent and dangerous chemical that requires extreme caution when handling, and it is also toxic to workers.

Caustic Soda

Sodium hydroxide is used for the production of the alkali soda known as soda ash, from the waste by-products of caustic soda. 

In the United States, most industrial soda ash production is carried out by an alkali process in which sodium hydroxide is reacted with sulfuric acid to produce the sodium sulfate product. This is called the Kraft process. After refining, the resulting salt is then converted into sodium sulfate (gypsum) by dissolving it in water to produce a solution of calcium sulfate, known as gypsum. It is important to note that sodium carbonate salt, also known as soda ash or soda, is chemically distinct from soda. 

Sodium carbonate is also known as bicarbonate, or bicarbonate of soda. Sodium carbonate is obtained in large quantities from caustic soda by calcining or reacting it with lime and is used in many household and industrial applications. In particular, bicarbonate is used as a chemical absorbent to remove acids from the atmosphere, from gas and oil reservoirs, and from metal work-pieces. 

When the sodium carbonate is dissolved in water, it gives off carbon dioxide. An ideal form of sodium hydroxide is also known as caustic soda. This is because caustic soda is capable of replacing sodium carbonate as an absorbent of carbon dioxide. Sodium carbonate and caustic soda are both used in water softening in the form of ‘soda ash’ or ‘caustic soda’, respectively. 

Sodium carbonate can also be used as a flame retardant. It is available in powder, granules, and pellets form. In these applications, sodium carbonate is mixed with other substances to make a flame retardant mixture. It is known as triclosan sodium carbonate or C-Sodium Carbonate for its antibacterial activity and the presence of triclosan as an ingredient. C-sodium carbonate is used as an antiseptic agent in hand soaps, sanitizers, and cleaners, both on the surface and inside the skin. 

Also, it is used as an additive for the production of various plastics. For example, white plastic is produced by mixing sodium carbonate with acetylated starch and borax. C-sodium carbonate, when used with an acidic compound like the above, can also form an acid resin and can provide a protective layer on the surface of the plastic. This layer will prevent the color and shape of the plastic to be affected. Besides being used in the above applications, Sodium carbonate is also used as a flame retardant in polyester, high strength fiber, and high strength plastic. It is added as a component of the plastic that is used in various products like furniture. Sodium carbonate has several other uses that have not yet been put into use. For example, it can be used as a soil fertilizer. 

This is because it increases the soil’s ability to absorb water. Sodium carbonate is widely used in the agriculture industry for the purpose of increasing crop yield. It is commonly used in fertilizers as an absorbent of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This use of sodium carbonate makes it an ideal substance for plant growth. In fact, there are many more uses of Sodium Carbonate in modern industry. 

It is very common and widely used in food additives. Sodium carbonate is used to preserve a variety of foods like bread, pickles, and wine. For example, it is used to treat wine as a preservative and is used in bread making in the production of yeast. In addition, Sodium carbonate is an ideal alkali for mixing sodium sulfite and is used in the food industry to preserve food. 

The presence of sodium carbonate in the food industry is not only for preserving food but also for regulating and maintaining the flavor and quality of food. The taste of the food is affected by a great number of factors such as the ingredients used in the production of the food, the processing methods of the food, and the storage methods of the food. For example, the presence of sodium carbonate helps to create a good flavor in beer and preserves the taste of fish. The presence of sodium carbonate makes it possible to easily dissolve and disperse food processing agents in the food, to produce a good taste, to prevent the formation of off-flavors, and to improve the preservation of food.

Chemical and Refining

Many chemical and refining companies use sodium hydroxide in various processes. The chemical is used as an excellent catalyst for the cracking of a number of hydrocarbon-based compounds. NaOH is used as a catalyst for a number of processes such as ethylene, ammonia, ammonia cracking, the production of alcohols from various compounds, or the production of sulfuric acid. In many cases, however, the catalyst has an effect in the first stage and the subsequent stages are carried out under conventional conditions without using the catalyst. In this way, NaOH is used to increase the yield of the product and it can also be used to separate undesirable compounds.

There are two primary uses for chemical and refining companies. The first is the production of chemicals for other products. The second is the refining of raw materials such as oil and coal into oil and coal products. The refining process includes an assortment of steps such as separation, distillation, and purification. The products that are obtained are of various natures such as waxes, resins, oils, fats, greases, tars, and fuel gases.


After reading this article, you will be able to answer the question ‘what is sodium hydroxide used for?’ easily. Study the physical and chemical properties of this alkali and find the reason for using it in different cases. Grab the concepts well and answer questions excellently.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the other names of Sodium Hydroxide?

Sodium hydroxide is also called caustic soda and lye. The chemical name of this compound as per the IUPAC is sodium hydroxide. It helps us to depict its chemical formula.

2. Where do we use Sodium Hydroxide at Home?

Most of the soaps and detergents are made of sodium salts of fatty acids. You will also find sodium hydroxide in most of the cleaning products used in homes. This is also a prime constituent of drain cleaners and oven cleaners. As you can see, the domestic uses of NaOH are linked to cleaning and unclogging.

3. Why Should you Study the uses of Sodium Hydroxide in Class 10?

Sodium Hydroxide is an important part of the inorganic chemistry studied in Class 10. Students will learn its properties and will be able to understand why it is specifically used domestically and commercially.

4. What are the chemical properties of sodium hydroxide?

Chemical Properties of Sodium HydroxideIt reacts with acids vigorously to form salts and water. It reacts with glass and results in the formation of soluble silicates. This is why it is stored in bottles made of a non-reactive material. Sodium hydroxide reacts with other salts of metals occurring in the lower position in the electrochemical series such as copper, iron, etc. Sodium hydroxide is also used for saponification reactions.

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