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Information @ a Glance

  • Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye, caustic soda and sodium hydrate, is a caustic metallic base. Caustic soda forms a strong alkaline solution when dissolved in a solvent such as water. It is used in many industries, mostly as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of pulp and paper, textiles, drinking water, soaps and detergents and as a drain cleaner.
  • Worldwide production in 1998 was around 45 million tonnes. Sodium hydroxide is the most used base in chemical laboratories. Pure sodium hydroxide is a white solid; available in pellets, flakes, granules and as a 50% saturated solution. It is deliquescent and readily absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, so it should be stored in an airtight container. It is very soluble in water with liberation of heat.

Production Process

  • Modern methods of sodium hydroxide manufacture use electrolysis, the process of converting ions into elements by means of an electric current. The process can still be called an oxidation, since the negative charge on the chlorine ion is removed by causing it to come into contact with the anode of the cell.
  • Liquid caustic soda is manufactured by electrolysis of purified and concentrated brine using mercury, diaphragm or membrane cell technology. Liquid caustic soda 50 % is evaporated to molten caustic soda. Solid caustic soda is manufactured by evaporation of water from liquid caustic soda and then solidification into a required shape.


  • In the chlor-alkali electrolysis process , an aqueous solution of sodium chloride is decomposed electrolytically by direct current, producing chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide solution. Three commercial processes are used in the industry for producing chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrogen: the mercury cell process, the diaphragm cell process, and the membrane cell process.
  • In each of the three basic electrolytic processes for chlorine, the nature of the cathode reaction and the means of keeping the chlorine produced at the anode separate from the hydrogen and caustic soda produced at the cathode vary. Pollution prevention technologies that can be implemented in the bleaching areas-of the mill.


  • The world caustic soda market will be worth almost US$6 billion, according to a major new study from analysts report on Caustic Soda says consumption will increase to 45 million tonnes. This rise in consumption is largely driven by the increasing demand from chemical producers. The global demand for caustic soda grows by an average of 3% a year, for chlorine – by an average of 2.2% a year. In India, caustic soda is the principal product of the industry.
  • An Institute (API) reports that demand for caustic in pulp bleaching is expected to decline by 7 percent  versus declines in the demand for chlorine of roughly 35 percent . This forecasted imbalance within the pulp and paper industry may be slightly offset by increases in chlorine demand from other market segments.

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