Soda Ash vs. Washing Soda

What's the Difference?

Soda Ash and Washing Soda are both alkaline substances commonly used in household cleaning and laundry products. However, they have slightly different chemical compositions and purposes. Soda Ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is primarily used in industrial applications such as glass manufacturing and water treatment. It is highly soluble in water and has a higher pH level, making it effective for removing stains and neutralizing acidic substances. On the other hand, Washing Soda, also known as sodium carbonate decahydrate, is a crystalline compound that is commonly used as a laundry booster and household cleaner. It has a lower pH level compared to Soda Ash and is particularly effective in removing grease, oil, and mineral deposits. While both substances have similar properties, their specific uses and concentrations may vary depending on the desired cleaning outcome.


AttributeSoda AshWashing Soda
Chemical FormulaNa2CO3Na2CO3
Common NameSoda AshWashing Soda
Other NamesSodium CarbonateSodium Carbonate Decahydrate
AppearanceWhite crystalline powderWhite crystalline powder
UsesGlass manufacturing, water treatment, detergent productionLaundry detergent, cleaning agent, pH regulator
SolubilityHighly soluble in waterHighly soluble in water
pH Level11.6 (basic)11.6 (basic)
Chemical StructureNa+ - O - C - O - Na+Na+ - O - C - O - Na+ - 10H2O

Further Detail


Soda Ash and Washing Soda are two commonly used chemicals in various industries and household applications. While they may seem similar, they have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different purposes. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, uses, and differences between Soda Ash and Washing Soda.

What is Soda Ash?

Soda Ash, also known as sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), is a white, crystalline powder that is highly soluble in water. It is derived from natural sources such as trona ore or can be synthetically produced through the Solvay process. Soda Ash has a high alkalinity and is classified as a strong base.

One of the primary uses of Soda Ash is in the manufacturing of glass. It acts as a flux, lowering the melting point of silica and facilitating the formation of glass. Additionally, Soda Ash is used in the production of detergents, paper, textiles, and various chemicals. It is also employed in water treatment processes to adjust pH levels and remove heavy metals.

Soda Ash has a wide range of applications due to its alkalinity and solubility. It can effectively neutralize acidic substances and is often used as a pH regulator in swimming pools and spas. Furthermore, it is utilized in the mining industry for ore processing and as a pH modifier in the production of metals.

When handling Soda Ash, it is important to take precautions as it can be irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Proper protective equipment should be used to minimize exposure.

What is Washing Soda?

Washing Soda, also known as sodium carbonate decahydrate (Na2CO3·10H2O), is a crystalline compound that appears as a white powder. It is derived from natural sources or can be obtained by treating Soda Ash with a solution of carbon dioxide and water. Washing Soda is highly soluble in water and has a strong alkaline nature.

One of the primary uses of Washing Soda is as a laundry detergent booster. It enhances the cleaning power of detergents by softening water, removing stains, and neutralizing odors. Washing Soda is also utilized in household cleaning products, such as multipurpose cleaners and oven cleaners, due to its ability to cut through grease and grime.

Washing Soda is an essential ingredient in the production of homemade soaps and detergents. It acts as a water softener, allowing the soap to lather more effectively. Additionally, it can be used as a pH adjuster in swimming pools and spas, similar to Soda Ash.

It is important to handle Washing Soda with care as it can cause skin and eye irritation. Protective gloves and goggles should be worn when using this chemical.

Comparison of Attributes

While both Soda Ash and Washing Soda are alkaline compounds, they differ in several key attributes:


Soda Ash is highly soluble in water, allowing it to dissolve quickly and completely. This property makes it suitable for various applications where rapid dissolution is required. On the other hand, Washing Soda is also soluble in water but has a lower solubility compared to Soda Ash. It may take longer to dissolve, especially in cold water.


Both Soda Ash and Washing Soda exhibit strong alkalinity. However, Soda Ash is considered a stronger base compared to Washing Soda. This higher alkalinity of Soda Ash makes it more effective in neutralizing acids and adjusting pH levels in various industrial processes.


Soda Ash finds extensive use in the glass manufacturing industry, detergent production, water treatment, and chemical synthesis. Its high alkalinity and solubility make it a versatile compound for numerous applications. On the other hand, Washing Soda is primarily used as a laundry detergent booster, household cleaner, and soap-making ingredient. Its ability to soften water and remove stains makes it ideal for cleaning purposes.

Chemical Composition

Soda Ash has the chemical formula Na2CO3, while Washing Soda has the formula Na2CO3·10H2O. The presence of water molecules in the chemical structure of Washing Soda gives it a higher molecular weight compared to Soda Ash. This difference in composition affects their physical properties and solubility.


Soda Ash is more readily available in the market compared to Washing Soda. It is commonly found in stores and can be easily purchased in bulk quantities. Washing Soda, on the other hand, may be less commonly available and might require specialized stores or online sources for procurement.


In conclusion, Soda Ash and Washing Soda are alkaline compounds with distinct attributes and uses. Soda Ash, with its high solubility and alkalinity, finds applications in glass manufacturing, detergents, and water treatment. Washing Soda, on the other hand, is primarily used as a laundry detergent booster and household cleaner. While both chemicals should be handled with care, Soda Ash is generally more readily available in the market compared to Washing Soda. Understanding the differences between these compounds allows for informed decision-making when selecting the appropriate chemical for a specific application.

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