Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a highly caustic white solid known colloquially as lye or caustic soda. Many industries utilize sodium hydroxide to increase the alkalinity of a chemical mixture or to neutralize acids. It is best used in water, ethanol and methanol, where it is completely soluble. These simple chemical properties give it unique qualities for use in the following industries. Tampa chemical supplier, Bell Chem, explains this versatile chemical below.

  • Pulp and paper use sodium hydroxide as a strong chemical base and to separate lignin from cellulose fibers.
  • Sodium hydroxide is also used in soap, detergent, and drain cleaners.
  • Solid sodium hydroxide in water is extremely exothermic; it generates a large proportion of heat. This reaction is helpful to catalyze many reactions.
  • Drilling in the petroleum industry utilizes sodium hydroxide as an additive; it increases alkalinity in bentonite mud systems to increase mud viscosity and neutralize acid gases.
  • Crude oil treated with sodium hydroxide removes sulfur impurities.
  • For centuries, sodium hydroxide has been used in home soap making, known as cold process soap.
  • Anhydrous sodium hydroxide catalyzes the transesterification of methanol and triglycerides in the manufacturing of biodiesel. An experimental technology to create a synthetic gasoline also uses sodium hydroxide.
  • Many foods contain sodium hydroxide: olives are softened in NaOH before canning, chocolate and soft drink utilize it in their processing, it adds color to caramel, washing and chemical peeling of fruits and vegetables occurs with NaOH, it acts as a thickening agent in ice cream, and as a glaze on German pretzels to create the crispy, light crust.
  • Many cleansers add sodium hydroxide to clean storage tanks and process equipment since it dissolves grease, oil, fat, and protein deposits.
  • In the home, sodium hydroxide is an excellent drain cleaner since it dissolves grease and oil as well as the proteins in hair often responsible in clogging drains. The heat produced by the combination of sodium hydroxide and water catalyzes the cleansing action.

The commercial uses for sodium hydroxide are varied and important; ensure your business has sodium hydroxide on hand to clean, catalyze, treat, and exothermically react chemicals and manufacturing equipment. For more information concerning sodium hydroxide or any  of our other products, call Tampa chemical supplier Bell Chem at 407-339-BELL (2355) or contact us online.