Man's physical universe

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NATURALLY OCCURRING SOLUBLE SALTS 761

2. Sodium Pyrophosphate. This salt, Na4P207, is often used as a

substitute for sodium hexametaphosphate because it is cheaper. It

hydrolyzes to produce a mildly alkaline solution and may be used in

washing even the most delicate fabrics such as silks and woolens.

Sodium pyrophosphate is used with soap because it not only acts as

an excellent detergent but it also prevents the formation of insoluble

soaps, thus softening hard water. Several commercial soap powders

contain this salt.

It is used for dispersing clay in such applications as

treatment of oil-well mud, in dairy cleaning because of its excellent

emulsifying action on casein and butter fat, in cleaning textiles, and

in the preparation of stable asphalt emulsions.

3. Sodium Hexametaphosphate. Sodium hexametaphosphate,

(NaP03)6, is a patented chemical which is licensed for sale for a wide

variety of specialized uses under different names. Under the name of

"Calgon," sodium hexametaphosphate is sold for washing operations.

It represents one of the few major contributions to the science of

washing. Its rapid and widespread acceptance by laundries, restaurants,

and critical housewives, despite its relatively high price, is

based on the fact that it combines with calcium and magnesium ions

to form complex ions that will not precipitate with soluble soaps.

"Calgon" will also dissolve insoluble soap precipitates. It is much

more efficient than sodium pyrophosphate as a water-softener. For the

average hard water, less than a tablespoonful of "Calgon" per gallon

is required. It is especially useful as a bath salt and as a hair rinse.

Sodium hexametaphosphate will find wide application in many

other fields of usefulness as its interesting properties come to be better

known; for example, it is used in the treatment of burns because of

its tanning action on albuminous materials. It has a strong healing

action on such skin irritations as poison oak, poison ivy, sunburn,

and athlete's foot. Sodium hexametaphosphate in concentrations of

0.5 to 5 parts per million has a marked inhibitive action on the corrosion

of iron and steel by water. Sodium hexametaphosphate is also used in

the treatment of boiler waters to prevent the formation of boiler

scale, in photography, in pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations

such as toothpaste, and in insecticide sprays.

The Development of the Borax Industry Is a Story Worth Telling.

When borax was first discovered in some of the salt flats of the

deserts of California and Nevada, its high price made it very much

worth while to work small deposits; but these deposits were soon

exhausted. Then borax was discovered in Death Valley, where it was

obtained by leaching it out of the salt deposits scraped up from the