What is Washing Soda?

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I have seen several "recipes" for homemade laudry detergent that uses "Washing Soda". They specify NOT baking soda. What the heck is washing soda? Do you have a brand name or do some of us know it by another name?

-- Lucy (lucy@in.net), July 19, 2001


Hi Lucy--I purchased my washing Soda from the local grocery store. The brand name is Arm & Hammer. Its in a yellow box with a big red circle on it. Hope that helps. I have also made the laundy soap from the recipes presented here and it works great.

-- Bill (sticky@2sides.tape), July 19, 2001.

Hi Lucy- I thought my description of the washing soda my be confusing since baking soda also comes in somewhat of a yellow box. The Washing Soda is in a really Bright Yellow box and the baking soda is in a orange box. It should be close to the borax and fel-napa soap. Making that detergent is easy and saves me lots of money

-- Bill (sticky@2sides.tape), July 19, 2001.

'Washing Soda', isn't that the same stuff as 'Caustic Soda'? Sodium Hydroxide. It is very caustic and this is one chemical where you need to read the instructions! Rubber gloves, eye protection etc. It loves to eat aluminium, giving off hydrogen as it does so.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), July 19, 2001.

Washing soda is sodium carbonate, and is often found in laundry detergent powders. Here is some more info from an encyclopedia: Sodium carbonate -- chemical compound, Na2CO3, soluble in water and very slightly soluble in alcohol. Pure sodium carbonate is a white, odorless powder that absorbs moisture from the air, has an alkaline taste, and forms a strongly alkaline water solution. It is one of the most basic industrial chemicals. Sodium carbonate decahydrate, Na2CO310H2O, is a colorless, transparent crystalline compound commonly called sal soda or washing soda. Because seaweed ashes were an early source of sodium carbonate, it is often called soda ash or, simply, soda. The Solvay process provides most sodium carbonate for industrial use. It is found in large natural deposits and is mined in Wyoming; it is also recovered (with other chemicals) from lake brines in California. The principal uses of sodium carbonate are in the manufacture of glass and the production of chemicals. It is also used in processing wood pulp to make paper, in making soaps and detergents, in refining aluminum, in water softening, and in many other applications. The Leblanc process, the first successful commercial process for making soda, is no longer used in the United States but played a major role in the Industrial Revolution.

-- Joy F [in So. Wisconsin] (CatFlunky@excite.com), July 19, 2001.

Oops, forgot to say that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. The two cannot be used interchangeably!

-- Joy F [in So. Wisconsin] (CatFlunky@excite.com), July 19, 2001.

... and sodium carbonate (washing soda) - isn't the same stuff as sodium hydroxide (lye or caustic soda). Until it gets in water anyway, when it will generate a much weaker and more controllable solution of the same ions. I still wouldn't leave it sitting in an aluminium (or even an aluminum) pot though.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), July 19, 2001.

Sodium carbonate is also known as "pH UP", sold in pool supply stores.

-- lily (lily123@yahoo.com), July 19, 2001.

Any soap makers out there. All Lucy wants to do is make laundry detergent. I have made it and have positive results. This is turning into a college class in chemical coumpounds-1-101. I mean no dis- respect to the previous poster. I am sure that they have had previous experiences working with that compound or compounds. Myself, I make the stuff all the time. Good luck Lucy, and maybe a soap maker might help

-- Bill (sticky@2sides.tape), July 19, 2001.

Gee, everything you ever wanted to know about washing soda and more..LOL :) Thanks everyone!

Is Arm and Hammer the only one who makes this or is there another "generic" name? Can I use the "ups" ph pool stuff if I can't find the other???

-- Lucy (lucy@in.net), July 20, 2001.

We bought washing soda ONCE at Walmart about 2 months ago. We have never found it since. They don't know what it is, never heard of it, and don't call us back about if they will ever get it back in. Good luck. When I find it, I'm going to buy 10 boxes of the stuff, although that might be a long time as I've been searching for it ever since.

-- Dee Dovey (deedovey@rica.net), April 01, 2002.

I did a little checking and found that (maybe) your grocery store can order washing soda for you. The UPC code for the 55oz. box is 33200- 03020. The store will need that in order to order it for you.

-- Gayle in KY (gayleannesmith@yahoo.com), April 07, 2002.

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