The trinity of green cleaning – washing soda, bicarbonate and borax. Often mentioned rarely explained!

Let’s take washing soda and bicarbonate of soda first. Why because they are related.

  • Both can be obtained naturally and originally were.
  • They are biodegradable
  • Washing soda has many industrial uses and as such is produced on an industrial scale. Bicarbonate of soda is a byproduct of that process.
  • Both can be now be manufactured as part of the same process.
  • Read about Bicarbonate of Soda in detail here
  • And more about Washing Soda here

Washing Soda or Sodium carbonate (also known as soda ash and soda crystals) has a chemical formula of Na2CO3.

Each molecule of sodium bicarbonate contains two sodium atom (Na), one hydrogen atom (H), and a carbonate ion (one carbon atom bonded to three oxygen atoms).

Bicarbonate of soda Chemical formula NaHCO3.

Each molecule of sodium bicarbonate contains one sodium atom (Na), one hydrogen atom (H), and a carbonate ion (one carbon atom bonded to three oxygen atoms).

One sodium atom difference

Making Bicarbonate and Washing Soda Today

Bicarbonate of soda can be produced as a by product of washing soda via one of these heavily industrialised processes:

The Solvay Process  Uses limestone, salt and ammonia to transform salt (sodium chloride). 

Mining –  Trona ore  is mined, then heated until it turns into soda ash also known as washing soda. Bicarbonate of soda is obtained along the way. Read more.

Baking Soda V Washing Soda


Both are alkaline so good at removing organic soils (but not inorganic).

Baking Soda’s PH is not as alkaline as washing soda. That one sodium atom (Na) makes a difference.

Washing Soda can soften water bicarbonate of soda cannot.

You can turn bicarb back into washing soda by baking it so that breaks back down into water steam, carbon dioxide and washing soda. I have never done this but by all accounts need to cook your bicarb in the oven for half an hour at 400 F (or 200 C).

Do you need both?

I don’t. Bicarbonate and soap meet all of my needs and if I ever did need some washing soda I would cook up some bicarb. BUT I live in a soft water area.

Uses Of Bicarbonate and buy

Uses Of Washing Soda

Technical Data

Technical grade

Sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, is a white, anhydrous and hygroscopic powder with a purity. There are two forms of sodium carbonate available, light soda and dense soda (granular). Sodium carbonate has a melting point of 851C, it decomposes when heated and therefore a boiling point can not be determined. Sodium carbonate is an inorganic salt and therefore the vapour pressure can be considered negligible. It is soluble in water and solubility increases with temperature. The average particle size diameter (d50) of light sodium carbonate is in the range of 90 to 150 µm and of dense sodium carbonate is in the range of 250 to 500 µm. Sodium carbonate is a strong alkaline compound. The pKa of CO3 2- is 10.33, which means that at a pH of 10.33 both carbonate and bicarbonate are present in equal amounts.

Click here to view MSDS


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