Chemical Reactions- Sodium Hydroxide

1555 Words Jun 19th, 2007 7 Pages
Chemical Reactions- Sodium Hydroxide

A chemical reaction is a change where two or more substances are changed into a new substance. You can identify a chemical reaction by colour change, effervescence (bubbles), when light or heat given off, and the change is usually irreversible. There are 6 main types of chemical reactions- combustion (often called burning), synthesis, decomposition, neutralization, single replacement and double replacement. A combustion reaction is a reaction with oxygen, and heat is evolved (given off). A common example of combustion is

Hydrogen +Oxygen= Water

Synthesis is a reaction where two or more substances combine to make a compound. An example of a synthesis reaction is
Iron + Oxygen = Iron Oxide
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The sodium oxide is then mixed with water to produce sodium hydroxide.
Na2O + H2O = 2NaOH

Nicolas LeBlanc, who found out a way to produce an alkali from sea salt, discovered the LeBlanc process. Another way to make sodium hydroxide is by adding lime (general term for various minerals where carbonates, oxides and hydroxides of calcium predominate ) to natron (a mineral salt mainly with the mixture of sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, sodium carbonate and sodium sulphate ) . This is also a synthesis reaction, as it combines 2 simple substances and makes one complex substance.

Lime + natron = sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is very important in the industrial, commercial and biological world. In the industrial world, it is used for the textile industry, making paper, making soap and making detergent. In the textile industry, sodium hydroxide is used for scouring the material before weaving. In the paper industry, sodium hydroxide breaks down the lignin in wood, to free the fibres that can be turned into paper. The soap and detergent industries use sodium hydroxide to make soap by the saponification (the reaction of a metallic alkali base with fat or oil to make soap ) process. Saponification is a traditional process used by the Arabs in the 7th century, and it is still used today. In the commercial world, sodium hydroxide is used to prepare food. For example, German pretzels are dipped in a sodium hydroxide
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