Producing Sodium Carbonate

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Summary:

A cheap, easy process to produce sodium carbonate

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Hello ppl
smiley.gif
amateur chemist here

Before I begin, I wanna ask if anyone here knows and is willing to teach me of a cheap, workable process to create sodium carbonate?

With that out of the way, I want to talk about how I recently become very interested in this useful chemical called sodium carbonate, since it has tons of practical uses (as glass and metallurgical flux, for the production of biodegradable soap, as a cleaning agent and to produce sodium bicarbonate, which is also extremely useful), and so I've decided to try and develop my own process to produce it... since the ones I'm most familiar with (Leblanc and Solvay), are too hard and costly for a DIY setup (except burning sea vegetation, but I don't live by the sea).

Reading about plant material (cellulose) combustion, I've learned that, the resulting CO2 creates a reductive environment, which enables the plant's nutrients to bind with the carbon and produce minerals such as calcite/aragonite (calcium carbonate) and potash (potassium carbonate), and also a bit of sodium carbonate (though the yield is pretty low).

For what I can gather from the Leblanc process:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leblanc_process

Is that sulphuric acid is used on table salt, to dissociate the chlorine and then bind the sulphur to create sodium sulphate, which is a lot less stable than sodium chloride, allowing for another, easier dissociation of the sodium and sulphate (using mere combustion and a catching material i.e. calcium carbonate, to take the sulphur away), to bind the former with carbon (producing sodium carbonate) and the later with sulphur (producing calcium sulphide).

So I was thinking that, the main problem I've got here to tackle, is how to dissociate sodium from chloride, without any, all too fancy chemicals or processes, if possible. Since I've already been producing some coke (very pure charcoal) in a kiln, I've decided that, maybe, I could just dip my sodium chloride into some water, to dissociate the ions, drop coke dust into my salty water, then, drop my soaked, salty coke into a kiln full of incandescent, non-treated coke to evaporate the water and, hopefully, the chlorine as well (pure chlorine boiling point is -34.04 °C), leaving only sodium behind (while pure sodium's boiling point is 883 °C) in the highly reductive environment of my kiln (and maybe some trace potassium from the coke to create the mixture known as "soda ash").

You guys think this setup could work? And also, what test can I perform to tell me, I've indeed got ashes with a high sodium carbonate yield?

P.D: other potential processes I've thought up are:

1. Simply burning my table salt in a bloomery (more than 1000 °C), to try and dissociate the chloride (like ceramicists do to create salty glazings i.e. sodium silicate i.e. liquid glass).

2. Feeding common plants a lot of salty water till they die and then, burning their remains.
 

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  • #2
chemisttree
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Summary:: A cheap, easy process to produce sodium carbonate

Hello ppl View attachment 255397 amateur chemist here

Before I begin, I wanna ask if anyone here knows and is willing to teach me of a cheap, workable process to create sodium carbonate?

1. Simply burning my table salt in a bloomery (more than 1000 °C), to try and dissociate the chloride (like ceramicists do to create salty glazings i.e. sodium silicate i.e. liquid glass).

2. Feeding common plants a lot of salty water till they die and then, burning their remains.
This is TOO easy! Get some sodium bicarbonate and calcine it. Do this in a test tube first. Place a few grams, accurately weighed, into a tared test tube and hold over a bunsen burner. Careful not to melt the tube. The solids will visibly release CO2. When it appears to stop, transfer into your dessicator to cool to room temp. Weigh and calculate the loss of CO2 and compare to the theoretical yield to ensure the reaction is complete. Repeat if required.
 
  • #3
chemisttree
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...and there’s nothing too onerous about the first step of the Solvay process.

“In the Solvay process, carbon dioxide and ammonia are passed into a concentrated solution of sodium chloride. Crude sodium bicarbonate precipitates out and is heated to form soda ash...”

i would purchase some clear ammonia from the cleaning supplies department. Toss in a few chunks of dry ice. Don’t cap it! When you are finished with the CO2, mix it slowly with a saturated NaCl brine. Allow to steep and settle out. Filter out the sodium bicarb. Recrystallize to purify.
You can also use compressed CO2 if you are familiar with and have access to a pressure regulator. Might find that stuff in the paintball area in your local sporting goods store. Dry ice is available from many grocery stores.
 
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This is TOO easy! Get some sodium bicarbonate and calcine it. Do this in a test tube first. Place a few grams, accurately weighed, into a tared test tube and hold over a bunsen burner. Careful not to melt the tube. The solids will visibly release CO2. When it appears to stop, transfer into your dessicator to cool to room temp. Weigh and calculate the loss of CO2 and compare to the theoretical yield to ensure the reaction is complete. Repeat if required.
Thanks for the comment, I was aware of this process. The thing is, I wanna be able to produce sodium carbonate from scratch, without having a precursor that's done like 99% of the work.
 
  • #5
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...and there’s nothing too onerous about the first step of the Solvay process.

“In the Solvay process, carbon dioxide and ammonia are passed into a concentrated solution of sodium chloride. Crude sodium bicarbonate precipitates out and is heated to form soda ash...”

i would purchase some clear ammonia from the cleaning supplies department. Toss in a few chunks of dry ice. Don’t cap it! When you are finished with the CO2, mix it slowly with a saturated NaCl brine. Allow to steep and settle out. Filter out the sodium bicarb. Recrystallize to purify.
You can also use compressed CO2 if you are familiar with and have access to a pressure regulator. Might find that stuff in the paintball area in your local sporting goods store. Dry ice is available from many grocery stores.
Ok, I'll record down your process.

However (well i should have been a bit clearer), the challenge I'm putting myself up with here, is to produce sodium carbonate, without getting too technical about it, preferentially if I can do everything from scratch.

For example, I've already managed to produce some sodium carbonate by:

1. I produced CO2 by capturing wild yeast and feeding it starch and sugar, and storing the gas in a tire's inner tube.
2. Using coke as electrodes, I did electrolysis on salty water to make sodium hydroxide.
3. Finally, all you have to do is to simply bubble my CO2 through the caustic soda to make the sodium carbonate.

Nevertheless, I'd rather not have to use electricity at all. The more I remove moving parts, the better.

Anyhow, about my proposed process, complicated as it might seem, you think it could work?
 
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  • #6
chemisttree
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Which process? The one where you feed plants salt water? The one where you dip charcoal into salt water and combust? Or the last process? You got CO2 by fermenting starch and sugar? Did you grow that or buy it? Where did you get the salt? From the grocery store or did you isolate it from your own perspiration? 😋
 
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Which process? The one where you feed plants salt water? The one where you dip charcoal into salt water and combust? Or the last process? You got CO2 by fermenting starch and sugar? Did you grow that or buy it? Where did you get the salt? From the grocery store or did you isolate it from your own perspiration? 😋
yesss! Got it from my last trip to the sea, got 2kg by evaporation (I confess, I'm a primitive technology freak).

Well any of the processes I've proposed, but of course, most prominently, the one about the coke.

P.D: check out videos about catching wild yeast, it's hella easy, the hard part is isolating strains. The CO2 can also be used in mini greenhouses.
 
  • #8
chemisttree
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I remember something about coconut coir. It must be repeatedly and exhaustively rinsed free of salt before use as growing medium. Perhaps get some unwashed and ash it and see what you get?

edit: Never mind. I just read an article discussing the use of coir ash in concrete. A table was presented of the chemical makeup of the ash. Not much sodium.
https://www.ijera.com/papers/Vol5_issue4/Part - 1/G504013335.pdf
 
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  • #9
chemisttree
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P.D: check out videos about catching wild yeast, it's hella easy, the hard part is isolating strains. The CO2 can also be used in mini greenhouses.
And in fly traps I hear.
 

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