Sodium carbonate crystallizes from water to form three different hydrates:
- sodium carbonate decahydrate (natron)
- sodium carbonate heptahydrate (not known in mineral form)
- sodium carbonate monohydrate (mineral thermonatrite).
Sodium carbonate is soluble in water, and can occur naturally in arid regions, especially in mineral deposits (evaporites) formed when seasonal lakes evaporate. Deposits of the mineral natron have been mined from dry lake bottoms in Egypt since ancient times, when natron was used in the preparation of mummies and in the early manufacture of glass.
The anhydrous mineral form of sodium carbonate is quite rare and called natrite. Sodium carbonate also erupts from Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania's unique volcano, and it is presumed erupted from other volcanoes in the past but, due to these minerals' instability at the earth's surface, are likely to be eroded. All three mineralogical forms of sodium carbonate, as well as trona, trisodium hydrogendicarbonate dihydrate, are also known from ultra-alkaline pegmatitic rocks, that occur for example in the Kola Peninsula in Russia.
Read more about this topic: Sodium Carbonate
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