Sodium metasilicate, which is often referred to as liquid glass due to its transparent to white appearance, is well known and widely used as sealing agent. The synthesizing procedure involves the liquefying sodium carbonate and mixing it with the silicone dioxide. It is worth noting that when placed in a neutral or a stable setting, the sodium metasilicate can be regarded as stable. However, when the acid reactants are added to it, it will bring into being the silica gel. The formula for this substance is Na2SiO3.
The Appearance of the Sodium Metasilicate
As mentioned, the popular name given to the liquefied sodium metasilicate is liquid glass. However, in its powder form, the substance is basically formed from crystals and, depending on the concentration and the other components in the mixture, it can be either see-through or present white shades. When it is exposed to air, the sodium metasilicate presents a tendency of absorbing the moisture and therefore, it will change its appearance. The texture of the substance is rough, given the fact that the silicate oxide in the composition is basically sand.
The Characteristics of the Sodium Metasilicate
The nature of the substance deems it able to be dissolved in water, thus resulting in a mixture that will present alkaline properties. At the same time, it is worth noting that the sodium metasilicate cannot be liquefied using alcohol base products or acidic substances, as it is quite a powerful base. The substance has displayed impressive detergent abilities as well as some potent buffering features. In its pure powder form the sodium metasilicate is not flammable so it provides one of the most effective fireproofing solutions for a wide range of materials. In addition, tests have revealed the great potential of the sodium metasilicate to link more water molecules and therefore boost the moisture levels during washing.
The Practical Uses of the Sodium Metasilicate
Companies that manufacture detergents often imply this substance in the composition of their products, mostly for the 2-in-1 effects of cleaning and softening the hard water. In fact, test show that it has been thoroughly effective in dislodging stubborn dirt particles, eliminating rust or oxidation without presenting any risk for the texture itself. Moreover, the water-binding will also augment the safety of your clothes.
However, in addition to laundry detergent, the sodium metasilicate has been employed as cleaning agent in the automotive industry for many years. Repairing the broken engine can be achieved by adding into the coolant liquid which is transported into the gasket. Once there, the high temperature will transform the substance into a sealant agent, which should patch up any existent leakage.
Furthermore, sodium metasilicate has found its way into the food preservatives industry, particularly for egg conservation. The ability to keep the eggs fresh for months in a row comes from the fact that the coating obtained via the immersion acts like a barrier against bacteria. It is fair to note that in addition to the actual practical uses, designers of the so called chemical gardens have also employed sodium metasilicate in creating amazing visual effects using its interaction with different types of metals to create stalagmites.
Precautions in Handling Sodium Metasilicate
Moisture, water and rainwater are not to come in contact with the substance at any point, as their interaction with the sodium metasilicate will affect its properties. Moreover, while it is inflammable, users should avoid exposing it to direct sunlight. Furthermore, handling the sodium metasilicate without the proper equipment is highly unadvisable, because its pure powder form is known to cause irritation of the skin and eyes. In addition, inhaling or ingesting it is strictly forbidden and the accidental intoxication should be addressed by specialized medical personnel as soon as possible.
Sodium metasilicate is a substance that comes with a wide variety of associated uses, purely practical or otherwise. From cleaning dishes to fixing engine holes, from creating design marvels to the preservatives industry, this substance can be found in a wide range of products. However, its pure form should be handled with the utmost care due to the high level of toxicity especially when it interacts with water or acid-based substances.