While many industries have faced forced closures and a strong reduction in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for caustic soda (NaOH), also called sodium hydroxide, seems to have been far less affected. The explanation for this trend is quite simple: caustic soda is, to a large extent, used in applications that are essential to our daily lives, sometimes even more so in pandemic times.
From soaps and disinfectants to enabling online purchases
The most obvious example is hygiene. Frequently washing hands, using tissues to catch a sneeze, wiping surfaces with disinfectants using a kitchen roll, all have increasingly become part of our daily routine.
And guess what: in all cases, caustic plays a role. Whether as a reactant in the production of soaps and detergents, a dissolver of the lignin in wood to turn it into paper pulp, or as a component in the production of disinfectant sodium hypochlorite, caustic soda is an essential chemical.
When confined to our homes, we increasingly turn to online purchases for our daily needs, be it clothing, electronic devices or equipment. Delivery is done in cardboard boxes, with the cardboard requiring – correct – caustic soda for its production.
Safe and flavoursome food and drinks
Sodium hydroxide is also used in numerous food-related applications: in the production of phosphates (used, for example, as emulsifiers in cheese) or glutamates (known for adding the famous 'umami' or savoury taste, e.g. to stock cubes) to name just a few.
When it comes to food processing, sodium hydroxide is part of many cleaning solutions ensuring proper hygiene. Used to clean piping in breweries, machinery in dairy plants or meat processing equipment, caustic soda makes sure machinery and equipment remain free of microbiological contamination.
Having talked food, what about beverage? Caustic soda is essential to extract alumina from bauxite ore. This is the first step in the production of aluminium used for drinking cans, of which some 370 billion are produced every year.
The list is far from exhaustive, but gives a good illustration of why caustic soda, produced by Vynova at its sites in Tessenderlo (Belgium) and Runcorn (UK), is an indispensable part of our daily lives.
Vynova is a major European manufacturer of caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide (NaOH). We produce caustic soda lye at our sites in Belgium and the UK and dispose of an extensive distribution network with storage tanks in Runcorn (UK), Tessenderlo, Ham, and Antwerp (all Belgium). Our caustic soda holds a pivotal position in the manufacture of a wide range of industrial and consumer products that improve our quality of life. Find out more about caustic soda from Vynova or contact one of our sales representatives here.