Caustic Soda- A brief intro 

Sodium hydroxide is a chemical that is used to make Caustic Soda (NaOH). This substance is an alkali, a class of bases that is soluble in water and capable of neutralizing acids. Nowadays, caustic soda can be produced as solutions, flakes, pellets, powders, and more. Its chemical identification as a sodium hydrate and its caustic or corrosive nature are the sources of its colloquial name. When in pure form, caustic soda is a waxy white solid. It effortlessly takes up water and creates watery solutions. Caustic soda or sodium hydroxide sold commercially is often sodium hydroxide monohydrate, NaOHH2O. The manufacturing of numerous daily things now frequently uses caustic soda as a component. It is commonly referred to as lye and has been used for generations to manufacture soap. Due to its capacity to dissolve grease, it is also frequently used in oven cleaners and drain-unclogging solutions. ​

Uses of Caustic Soda

The production of soaps and other detergents used in homes and businesses uses sodium hydroxide, sometimes known as caustic soda. Sodium hydroxide and chlorine are combined to create chlorine bleach. The fats and grease that could clog pipes are transformed into soap by caustic soda-containing drain cleaners, which dissolve in water. 

Several sectors utilize caustic soda, including those that produce paper and pulp, drinking water, textiles, detergents, and soap. Almost 60 million tonnes of caustic soda were produced worldwide in 2004, compared to 51 million tonnes of demand. 

Paper Pulping 

Moreover, sodium hydroxide is frequently used while pulping wood to create paper or recycled fibers. Sodium hydroxide, along with sodium sulfide, is an essential part of the white liquor solution used in the kraft process to extract lignin from cellulose fibers. It also has a significant impact on several later steps in the process of bleaching the brown pulp that is produced as a result of the pulping process. These processes require a strongly alkaline environment with a pH > 10.5 at the end of the phases, including oxygen delignification, oxidative extraction, and simple extraction.

Digest Tissues

Similar to a method that was once applied to farm animals, sodium hydroxide is utilized to break down tissues. A carcass was placed within a tightly closed chamber, and water and sodium hydroxide were then added to dissolve the chemical bonds holding the flesh together. The only solids left are the bone hulls, which can be crushed between one’s fingertips, and the body ultimately transforms into a dark brown liquid. Animal disposal contractors typically employ sodium hydroxide in the process of decomposing roadkill that is put in landfills. Criminals have used it to dispose of corpses due to its accessibility and low cost. Since it can hydrolyze protein, sodium hydroxide is a hazardous chemical. If a diluted solution spills on the skin, burns could develop if the area is not properly cleaned with running water for several minutes. Eye splashes can be more dangerous and result in blindness.


Making soap typically involves the use of sodium hydroxide. Because it was simpler to store and transport, it was designed in the nineteenth century for a hard surface product rather than a liquid one. Sodium hydroxide is used as a catalyst in the transesterification of methanol and triglycerides to produce biodiesel. Because the fat would transform into soap when coupled with water, which would be polluted with methanol, this only works with anhydrous sodium hydroxide. Because NaOH is less expensive and requires a lower amount, it is used more frequently than potassium hydroxide. Owing to lower production costs, sodium hydroxide, which is made from table salt, is more affordable than potassium hydroxide.

Food & Beverage Industry 

Sodium hydroxide is used in the food industry to wash or chemically peel fruits and vegetables, make chocolate and cocoa, produce caramel coloring, scald chicken, process soft drinks, and thickening ice cream. Olives are frequently soaked in sodium hydroxide for softening. Sodium hydroxide is frequently substituted with sodium carbonate since it is difficult to find food-grade sodium hydroxide in small quantities for home usage.

Cleaning Agent 

When used as an industrial cleaning agent, sodium hydroxide is usually referred to as “caustic.” When used to clean process equipment, storage tanks, etc., it is heated and added to water. Grease, oils, fats, and deposits made of proteins can all be removed by it. In domestic premises, it is also used to clean the waste discharge pipes found beneath sinks and drains. To stabilize the dissolved materials and avoid redeposition, surfactants can be added to the sodium hydroxide solution. Bakeware made of stainless steel and glass can be effectively degreased by soaking it in a sodium hydroxide solution. Moreover, it is a typical component of oven cleansers.

Parts Washer Detergent 

Sodium hydroxide is frequently used in the creation of parts washer detergents. Some of the most potent parts of washer cleaning agents are detergents based on sodium hydroxide. Surfactants, rust inhibitors, and defoamers are all included in sodium hydroxide-based detergents. To degrease filthy components, a parts washer boils water and detergent in a closed cabinet before spraying the heated solution of sodium hydroxide and hot water at high pressure. When trichloroethane was banned by the Montreal Protocol in the early 1990s, sodium hydroxide employed in this way replaced many solvent-based systems. Parts washers made of water and sodium hydroxide detergent are thought to be more environmentally friendly than cleaning techniques that use solvents.

A common industrial chemical, caustic soda is utilized in a variety of industries, including pulp and paper, detergents, packaging, agriculture, environmental protection, water treatment, foodstuffs, health, textiles, and the chemical, construction, and auto industries. A powerful base, liquid caustic soda is employed as a chemical reagent, pH regulator, catalyst, ion exchange resin regenerator, and etching and cleaning agent. When handling this substance or its solutions, safety gear such as rubber gloves, safety gear, and eye protection should always be worn. Alkali spills on the skin typically require the same first aid procedures as other corrosives: extensive irrigation with water. For at least ten to fifteen minutes, washing is continued. Ensure your utmost safety while handling this common chemical. In India, several manufacturers are dealing in a range of specialty chemicals in the grades of LR, AR, ACS, IP, BP, USP, EP, JP, and Food as per customers’ requirements.