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Soda Ash - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
While I normally dose with baking soda, my pH looks a bit on the fence so was thinking about baking up some soda ash. But with this heat, and no AC, running an oven at 350F for an hour plus is not an option (at least according to the spousal unit).

So after some searches, looks like a cheat would be Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. I looked through the MSDS and it truly is 100% soda ash. So, sharing in case anyone else is in need of soda ash but don't want to DIY.

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sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
While it says "100% soda ash" it doesn't mean it's 100% soda ash, i.e. any sort of impurities which I'm sure there are plenty are not listed on it.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
While it says "100% soda ash" it doesn't mean it's 100% soda ash, i.e. any sort of impurities which I'm sure there are plenty are not listed on it.
No doubt there will be some impurities relative to food grade baking soda. But, considering everything else i throw in the tank, it's probably not significant enough to impact for me... :)
 

xcaret

Guest
I didn’t read the while PDF, rather, was quick searching for something stating Food Grade/USDA
I noticed it reads Disodium Carbonate
Myself to be on the safe side, would bake a Costco baking soda pack in its entirety; perhaps summertime is not the best season to be baking while temperatures around hit close to 100.
I used to bake it close to two hours, windows open but for sure, not when San Francisco was reaching 90 degrees and when family was gone for a few hours to prevent any complaining.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
I didn’t read the while PDF, rather, was quick searching for something stating Food Grade/USDA
I noticed it reads Disodium Carbonate
Myself to be on the safe side, would bake a Costco baking soda pack in its entirety; perhaps summertime is not the best season to be baking while temperatures around hit close to 100.
I used to bake it close to two hours, windows open but for sure, not when San Francisco was reaching 90 degrees and when family was gone for a few hours to prevent any complaining.
Disodium carbonate is an alternative name for soda ash (normally, you'd see just called sodium carbonate)... Na2CO3.
12% water? That sounds incredibly high for what largely is a dry product.

Just looking at their Baking Soda part it says 100% sodium bicarbonate.
@sfsuphysics the MSDS basically provides a fudge factor for shelf life. You start out as 100% soda ash but as it sits in air, some of it starts reabsorbing water (which you would have baked out of baking soda to make soda ash).

WARNING -- Science geeking ahead:

Baking soda: NaHCO3

Baking it strips the water out (vapor), creates a bit of carbon dioxide, and leaves you with soda ash: 2 NaHCo3 --> Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

Over time, the soda ash will bond with water in the air as Na2CO3*H2O. (hence the 85-88% sodium carbonate \ disodium carbonate).

On a related note -- don't over bake or burn soda ash or it'll convert to sodium oxide (Na2O), which when you add it to water will make NaOH, a strong base... you don't want to dose strong bases into your tank straight... :)
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
That's why I like physics, we have the hydrogen atom... and maybe care about other atoms in specialized fields (nuclear physics), but under no circumstances do we care about molecules! :D Hell, even semiconductors are just doped atoms, and we don't actually let them turn into molecules :D
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
My mom would be proud to know i finally made use of some of the money spent on my undergrad degree (MSE/ChemE). Hah.

For years, i got grief for spending all of the out of state tuition and not doing something related with it beyond the first few years after school. Lmao.

On the bright side, i did get to play with big magnets, lasers, and plasma in those early years.
 

JVU

BOD
Staff member
The science of this is interesting. I’m always down for a geek-out session.

But from a practical point of view the pH lowering effect of baking soda is so small and transient, with no permanent lowering effect on pH, that I don’t really understand why folks bother with cooking baking soda to make soda ash. If you add small amounts at a time, and have a skimmer and surface agitation, the pH effect is so fleeting until the water re-equilibrates with CO2 from the air.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
The science of this is interesting. I’m always down for a geek-out session.

But from a practical point of view the pH lowering effect of baking soda is so small and transient, with no permanent lowering effect on pH, that I don’t really understand why folks bother with cooking baking soda to make soda ash. If you add small amounts at a time, and have a skimmer and surface agitation, the pH effect is so fleeting until the water re-equilibrates with CO2 from the air.
..exactly why I just started dosing straight baking soda once a day into my overflow and stopped baking..er, baking soda..

that said, since I now have a DOS to install, I was thinking that if it's Trident controlled that I might see a bit more pH stability using a soda ash solution (adjusting based on alk rather than pH, and treating pH as a bonus if it helps provide some extra buffering). And since, I don't have to do any baking, even more or a why-not... :)
 
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xcaret

Guest
I used both, baking soda and soda ash in the past; both based on the recipes from Randy Holmes Farley; depending on the system being dosed, I would prepare for the tank at home soda ash since pH was my issue. Tanks in the basement didn’t have any impact on the pH so I normally prepared baking soda.
Costco seems to have the best deal on baking soda so it made sense to buy the large bag and prepare either.
 

Wlachnit

BOD
Staff member
The science of this is interesting. I’m always down for a geek-out session.

But from a practical point of view the pH lowering effect of baking soda is so small and transient, with no permanent lowering effect on pH, that I don’t really understand why folks bother with cooking baking soda to make soda ash. If you add small amounts at a time, and have a skimmer and surface agitation, the pH effect is so fleeting until the water re-equilibrates with CO2 from the air.
Solubility of Na2CO3 is much higher then NaHCO3. So, it makes my dosing easier by not having to make up as big of a batch.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
Solubility of Na2CO3 is much higher then NaHCO3. So, it makes my dosing easier by not having to make up as big of a batch.
Or just use store bought washing soda... ;) a no bake recipe. 3lbs for $4-$5 is comparable to baking baki g soda economics wise
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Or just use store bought washing soda... ;) a no bake recipe. 3lbs for $4-$5 is comparable to baking baki g soda economics wise
You will be the guinea pig! To see if you notice any weird things in your tank :)

I still would worry about impurities due to the grading that it happens to be, now maybe A&H is a higher quality (Maaaaaaybe) but the fact that it doesn't need to be food grade means that a little less worry about "other things" might happen.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
Or maaaaaybe, any impurities in it is the secret sauce to great coloring and growth... hmmmm... :D

Started dosing with it and while only a few days, things look stable... if anything, I think my coloring has improved...probably as a function of pH increases / buffering
 
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