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water glass, also called sodium silicate or soluble glass, a compound containing sodium oxide (Na2O) and silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2) that creates a glassy solid through the really useful property of gift soluble in water. Water glass is sold as hard lumps or flour or as a clear, syrupy liquid. The is supplied as a convenient resource of salt for numerous industrial products, together a builder in laundry detergents, as a binder and adhesive, as a flocculant in water-treatment plants, and in numerous other applications.

Water glass has been manufactured due to the fact that the 19th century, and the straightforward principles of making “silicate of soda” have actually not adjusted since that time. It is frequently produced by roasting various quantities of soda ash (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3) and also silica sand (a ubiquitous resource of SiO2) in a heating system at temperature between about 1,000 and 1,400 °C (approximately 1,800 and 2,500 °F), a process that gives off carbon dioxide (CO2) and also produces salt silicate (Na2SiO3; usually stood for by its two constituents, Na2O and also SiO2):Na2CO3 + SiO2→ Na2O∙SiO2 + CO2



This roasting produces unify glassy lumps called cullet, which can be cooled and sold in that form or floor up and sold together powders. Lump or ground water glass in turn can be fed into pressurized reactors for dissolving in hot water. The systems is cooled come a viscous liquid and sold in containers varying in size from small jars to huge drums or tanks.

Sodium silicate liquid can additionally be prepared straight by dissolving silica sand under press in a cook aqueous systems of corrosive soda (sodium hydroxide, NaOH):2NaOH + SiO2 → Na2O∙SiO2 + H2O


In either production route, the greater the proportion of SiO2 come Na2O and the higher the concentration that both ingredients, the much more viscous the solution. Viscosity is a product the the development of silicate polymers, the silicon (Si) and also oxygen (O) atom being connected by covalent binding into large negatively fee chain or ring frameworks that incorporate the positive charged salt ions and also water molecules. Extremely viscous solutions can be spray-dried to type glasslike beads of hydrated salt silicate. The beads have the right to be packaged because that sale come commercial users much like soil cullet, but they dissolve an ext readily than the anhydrous form of water glass.

These properties do hydrated salt silicates right for use in among their most usual consumer products: powdered laundry and also dishwasher detergents. Liquified water glass is center to highly alkaline, and in detergents this building aids in the remove of fats and also oils, the neutralization the acids, and the breakdown of starches and also proteins. The same home makes the compound useful in the de-inking of wastepaper and also in the bleaching of paper pulp.

Small amounts of dissolved water glass are supplied in the treatment of municipal water supplies and wastewater, wherein it adsorbs metallic ions and also aids in the development of loosened agglomerations that particles referred to as flocs, i beg your pardon filter the water of undesirable exposed materials.

Liquid salt silicate reacts under acidic problems to kind a tough glassy gel. This residential property makes it useful as a bonding agent in cemented products such as concrete and also abrasive wheels. It is also wonderful adhesive because that glass or porcelain.

A classic use for dissolved water glass is as a preservative for eggs. Fresh egg stored under cool problems in a viscous silicate solution will keep for months.

There are numerous formulations of sodium silicate, relying on the amounts of Na2O and SiO2. Also, there are various other silicate glasses in i beg your pardon the sodium is replaced by another alkali metal, such together potassium or lithium. Part glasses are better suited than others for details applications, however they all share the same property of gift a glassy solid the dissolves in water to type an alkaline solution.

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This article was most recently revised and updated through Robert Curley, senior Editor.