What is Caustic Soda and What is its Formula?

  • Caustic soda is an inorganic compound made up of sodium, hydrogen, and oxygen. It has the chemical name sodium hydroxide with the formula NaOH. There are three different forms of caustic soda which include caustic soda pearls, caustic soda flakes and caustic soda lye liquid.

Caustic Soda Pearls

  • Caustic soda pearls are white spheres of caustic soda that are almost odorless. They are soluble in water and, with the release of heat, are stable under normal conditions. They are also known as caustic soda, sodium hydrate, sodium hydroxide pearls, beadlets or sodagrain. 

Caustic Soda Flakes

  • Caustic soda flakes are a white flake mass that is highly hygroscopic and very soluble in water. They are also known as sodium hydroxide flakes and NaOH flakes. Caustic soda flakes are produced from the evaporation of liquid caustic soda.

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Differences between Caustic Soda Pearls and Caustic Soda Flakes

The Physical Appearance

The physical form or shape of caustic soda pearls and caustic soda flakes is the most significant distinction. Caustic soda pearls are granular, whereas caustic soda flakes are lamellar. This means that caustic soda pearls look very similar to fish eggs or caviar, while caustic soda flakes look like small flakes.

The Manufacturing Process

Caustic soda flakes and caustic soda pearls are produced in different ways. Caustic soda is produced through the chloralkali technique, which involves electrolysis of sodium chloride using one of three cell types: mercury, diaphragm, or membrane. It is possible to produce up to 1.1 tonnes of caustic soda for every tonne of chlorine produced. Technical sodium hydroxide flakes, on the other hand, are obtained by evaporating of liquid caustic soda.

Functionality & Uses

Caustic Soda Pearls Uses

Caustic soda pearls are simple to use and weigh in application, making them ideal for scientific usage. Caustic soda flakes have a low cost of manufacturing, making them ideal for industrial use.

Some of the most popular uses for caustic soda pearls are:

  • They are used in the production of petroleum, in processing cotton, in aluminum etching, paint stripping and production of soap and detergents. 
  • Caustic soda pearls are used in the paper industry in the pulping and bleaching processes.
  • This chemical is used in the aluminum industry. Caustic soda dissolves bauxite ore, which is utilized as a raw material in aluminum production.
  • Caustic Soda Pearls produce saponification which is needed in production of vegetable oils and fats for soap manufacturing.
  • They are used in the natural gas industry to help create and process petroleum products. They are also used in the textile industry, where sodium hydroxide is used in the chemical processing of cotton.
  • Caustic soda Pearls are also used in chemical processing since it is a key ingredient in a range of downstream products such as solvents, polymers, textiles, and adhesives. They are also used in the chemical industry for the processing of fabrics, plastics, adhesives, solvents, and other products.
  • Caustic soda pearls can also be utilized on a small scale. It can etch metals, analyze chemicals, and remove paint, among other things. It can also pipe and drain oven cleaners and other home goods.
  • In gold mining processes, Caustic Soda Pearls is used in the stripping of gold absorbed onto activated carbon.
  • Caustic soda offers protective alkalinity, which stabilizes the cyanide complex and avoids hydrogen sulfide production.
  • Then the carbon is treated with a caustic-cyanide solution at a high temperature and pressure and sodium cyanide is used for solubilizing the gold cyanide.
  • Caustic Soda is added for a high pH and to reduce Hydrogen Cyanide gas.

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Caustic Soda Flakes Uses

Caustic soda flakes are used in a variety of industrial applications which include:


  • They are used in cotton making, alcohol production, leather production, paper production, soap and detergent production, as well as in the textile industry to dye nylon and polyester.
  • Caustic soda flakes are also used in the mining industry as a floatation agent for various ores such as bauxite and in the processing of ceramics.
  • It is often used in the Mining-Elution stripping of gold adsorbed onto activated carbon.
  • Caustic Soda Flakes are also used in the manufacture of sodium salts and in water treatment.
  • Additional applications of Caustic Soda Flakes include:
    • Petroleum refining
    • Manufacture of plastics
    • Pulp and paper industry
    • Dyes and pharmaceutical industries
    • Aluminum processing
    • Manufacture of soaps and detergents

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In regard to price, caustic soda flakes cost less than caustic soda pearls. Caustic soda flakes cost $340 - $350, while caustic soda pearls cost around $460 per ton.

Handling and Storage

Caustic Soda Pearls

Caustic soda pearls should be kept in containers that can withstand the corrosive nature of the chemical. Because of the "leak-seeking" character of NaOH and the chemical hazards it poses, further containment procedures are necessary. When storing or transporting Caustic soda pearls, certain metals should be avoided. Aluminum, lead, tin, zinc, and zinc alloys like brass and bronze are among these metals.

Due to the presence of zinc in the protective coating, galvanized steel should also be avoided. The metals will be chemically attacked by sodium hydroxide, which will release them into the solution, where the high pH and presence of water will result in the production of flammable and explosive hydrogen gas. Carbon steel is typically considered safe for handling and storing NaOH, although at high temperatures, it will chemically damage mild steel.

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Caustic soda flakes

Keep the Caustic Soda Flakes in containers that are firmly closed and clearly labeled. Caustic soda flakes should not be stored in an aluminum container since it can create dangerous hydrogen gas. To minimize dust formation and spread, caustic soda flake should be stored in dry, cool, well-ventilated areas. Store caustic soda flake apart from other ingredients such as acids and ammonium salts. When storing or transporting Caustic soda flakes, certain metals such as aluminum, lead, tin, zinc, and zinc alloys like brass and bronze should be avoided.

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