A simple, natural product used in products worldwide

Soda ash is the 10th most consumed inorganic compound in the world, which has been used for over 5,000 years.

It is a safe, simple compound and a key component in a variety of industrial processes from the manufacture of glass to dry powder detergents and lithium-ion batteries. It is also an important ingredient in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

How soda ash is used

Life's invisible ingredient: Sodium carbonate, Na2CO3

The ancient Egyptians recovered soda ash from dry desert lake beds or produced it by burning marine plants with high sodium content to produce ashes, which gave the commonly used name of 'soda ash'.

They used it to reduce the melting point of silica sand to produce glass vessels and ornaments - the same basic production technique used in glass manufacturing today. The Romans also used its related compound, sodium bicarbonate, for medicinal purposes and to make bread.

Successive generations produced soda ash in this way until the mid-1800s, when synthetic production techniques were first developed, to supply the increasing demand from an industrialising world.

Na2CO3 Soda ash, or sodium carbonate
5,000 Used for over 5,000 years
Everyday products

How is soda ash made?

Today, soda ash (sodium carbonate) is produced by two main methods, both of which produce chemically identical soda ash.

Global soda ash demand is expected to continue growing by around 2 million metric tonnes every year, reaching over 80 million mtpa by 2030.

1. Natural soda ash production

Natural soda ash is produced by extracting naturally occurring trona ore and then processing this via a simple process of filtering, concentration, crystallisation and drying into soda ash which can be sold. Today, this accounts for around 30% of global production.

Commercially exploitable trona deposits only occur geologically in three regions of the world: Enormous deposits in Wyoming, USA, large deposits in Turkey, and much smaller and chemically less pure deposits in China. Today, natural soda ash is only produced in Wyoming, USA and Turkey.

2. Synthetic soda ash production

Synthetic soda ash is produced using a chemical production process using either the so-called Solvay or Hou method, in which salt (sodium chloride) is reacted with limestone (calcium carbonate) and coking coal in the presence of ammonia to produce synthetic soda ash.

Synthetic soda ash accounts for about 70% of global production, and is a more costly and a far more energy and water intensive production process than natural production methods.

WE Soda only produces soda ash from naturally occurring trona.

factory machinery

Where is soda ash (trona) found?

Natural soda ash has been found in lake brines or naturally occurring mineral deposits. Trona (a mix of water, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate and sometimes sodium chloride or salt) is the most common and richest source of naturally occurring soda ash.

While trona occurs naturally in a few locations worldwide, the largest and purest deposits are found near Green River, Wyoming, USA and near Ankara, Turkey. To date, these are the only commercially exploitable deposits that have been discovered globally.

We are proud to supply the world with high quality, natural soda ash, manufactured in an environmentally sustainable way, which has earned us green product certification.

trona ore

How we extract trona ore

First developed at Eti Soda, we are the only company outside China to use innovative solution extraction technology on a commercial scale.

We use this at both our Eti and Kazan facilities. This patented production method injects heated water into the underground ore body, which then dissolves the trona forming brine solution. The brine is then brought to the surface, and pumped to a central processing facility.

This closed loop system is safer (no underground operatives), has minimal impact on the surface, uses significantly less energy and water than other production methods and also produces significantly less CO2 emissions.

Find out more about our approach to sustainability


Soda ash: Life's invisible ingredient

Soda ash is an essential, but invisible, ingredient in many products which we all use every day.

Over half of all soda ash production is used in glass manufacturing, but it is also used in a wide range of other products, such as powdered detergents and soaps and rechargeable batteries, as well as being used extensively in metallurgical processes, and across the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Importantly, soda ash is increasingly being used to improve our environment and reduce polluting emissions by removing sulphur dioxide and other harmful chemicals from exhaust fumes in shipping and other industrial flue gas emissions.

Soda ash: How it is used

When processed, soda ash can vary in density, size and shape. This flexibility allows it to be used in a variety of everyday products. From office building windows to detergents, food manufacturing to internet cables, some common examples are listed below.

molten glass bottles

Key soda ash applications

Flux in glass Flux in glass Usage 52%
Soda ash

Reduces the melting point of silica sand. Limited substitution risk.

Two major segments: flat glass (30%) and container glass (22%).

Additives in chemical & metallurgy Additives in chemical & metallurgy Usage 15%
Soda ash

Mining and smelting of various metals and minerals, especially in alumina products.

Lithium carbonate for lithium-ion batteries.

Soaps and detergents Soaps and detergents Usage 10%
Soda ash

Incorporated in powdered soaps and detergents for household, industrial and commercial applications.

Other Other Usage 23%
Soda ash Sodium bicarbonate

Water treatment, production of chemical caustic soda (lime-soda process), including flue gas desulfurisation.

Customer goods & healthcare

industrial plant

Industrial applications

Energy & environment

Agro, feed & food

construction crane and building

Building & construction

Sodium bicarbonate

In addition to soda ash, we also produce approximately 400,000 tonnes per year of sodium bicarbonate, also known as “baking soda”, at our facilities in Eti and Kazan.

Like soda ash, sodium bicarbonate is a safe inorganic compound that is chemically closely related to soda ash (aka sodium carbonate).

bakery products

Uses of sodium bicarbonate

The main uses of sodium bicarbonate are as a raising agent in food manufacture, as an ingredient in pharmaceutical healthcare and animal feed products, and in waste water treatment.

More recently, sodium bicarbonate is increasingly being used in new environmental applications, including the desulphurisation or “scrubbing” of flue gas emissions, particularly in the shipping industry.

gas flues
Eti Soda factory on horizon blue sky Turkey