The average American citizen is probably unaware that production of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, is used to measure the strength of the nation’s economy. Soda ash has applications in both the automobile and construction industries, meaning production trends of soda ash can, qualitatively at least, indicate near-term economic activity.
Also known as washing soda and by its chemical symbol Na2CO3, natural soda ash is refined from trona or from sodium-carbonate-bearing brines. It can also be chemically reproduced using the Solvay method.
Nearly half of the soda ash produced in the United States annually is used in the manufacture of glass. Other applications of soda ash include the manufacture of chemicals, paper and detergents.