Washing Soda & SCIENCE

*Washing Soda 9

Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is a nifty substance.  You can use it to boost your laundry soap’s cleaning power, as a mild abrasive in cleaning, or as a base for making your own laundry soap.  In the industrial world, people use it as a flux for creating glass, to clean biological specimens (like in taxidermy), and as an electrolyte in chemical processes.  SCIENCE.  We’re going to use it in a chemical process in a little while, in fact, and hope it turns into some really nifty Christmas gifts. Problem is, washing soda is not always easy to find.  But you can easily make it at home.

*Washing Soda 1

So let’s do some science.  All you need is some regular old baking soda.  See how it clumps up.

*Washing Soda 2

Spread that in a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 425°F. Slide that into the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, for about an hour and a half.

*Washing Soda 3

And then you have washing soda.  That’s it.  I’m not even kidding.

*Washing Soda 7

I imagine that this is how the surface of the moon looks up close.  See how grainy it is?

*Washing Soda 4

So why does this work?  Well, the chemical composition of baking soda is NaHCO3.  The chemical composition of washing soda is Na2CO3.  So when you bake it, the high temperatures cause the baking soda to release water (in the form of steam) and carbon dioxide.  Here you can see the difference up close: baking soda on the left, washing soda on the right.  TADA.

*Washing Soda 10

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