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Sodium Carbonate vs. Sodium Percarbonate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 23, 2024
Sodium carbonate is a common water softener and cleaning agent, while sodium percarbonate is a compound of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, used as a bleaching agent.

Key Differences

Sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash or washing soda, is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. Sodium percarbonate is a compound made by combining sodium carbonate with hydrogen peroxide.
Sodium carbonate is widely used in laundry detergents as a water softener and cleaning agent. Sodium percarbonate serves as an effective bleaching agent in many cleaning products, releasing hydrogen peroxide when dissolved in water.
Sodium carbonate appears as a white, crystalline powder and is highly alkaline. Sodium percarbonate also appears as a white granular powder but is different in that it releases oxygen and acts as a bleaching agent when mixed with water.
Both compounds are considered environmentally friendly. Sodium carbonate is non-toxic and biodegradable. Sodium percarbonate breaks down into water, oxygen, and sodium carbonate, making it an eco-friendly bleaching option.
Sodium carbonate is used in glass manufacturing, water treatment, and as a buffering agent in pools. Sodium percarbonate is primarily used in household cleaning products, including eco-friendly bleaches and laundry detergents.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Formula


Primary Use

Water softening, cleaning
Bleaching, stain removal

Physical Form

White, crystalline powder
White, granular powder

Action in Water

Softens water, cleans
Releases hydrogen peroxide, bleaches

Environmental Impact

Non-toxic, biodegradable
Breaks down into non-toxic substances

Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Percarbonate Definitions

Sodium Carbonate

A sodium salt of carbonic acid, used as a water softener.
I added sodium carbonate to the laundry to soften the water.

Sodium Percarbonate

Acts as a bleaching and disinfecting agent.
Sodium percarbonate is great for removing organic stains from clothes.

Sodium Carbonate

Used in cleaning products and water treatment.
For pool maintenance, sodium carbonate is used to balance pH levels.

Sodium Percarbonate

Breaks down into water, oxygen, and sodium carbonate.
Sodium percarbonate is environmentally friendly, breaking down into non-toxic substances.

Sodium Carbonate

Known as washing soda or soda ash.
Sodium carbonate, or soda ash, is essential in glass manufacturing.

Sodium Percarbonate

Releases oxygen when dissolved in water.
When added to water, sodium percarbonate bubbled and released oxygen.

Sodium Carbonate

A common ingredient in laundry detergents.
Sodium carbonate in the detergent enhances its cleaning efficiency.

Sodium Percarbonate

Used in eco-friendly cleaning products.
The eco-friendly laundry detergent contained sodium percarbonate.

Sodium Carbonate

Appears as a white, alkaline powder.
The white powder in the box was sodium carbonate.

Sodium Percarbonate

A compound of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.
The stain remover's key ingredient was sodium percarbonate.


What is sodium carbonate?

A sodium salt used as a water softener and cleaning agent.

What is sodium percarbonate?

A compound of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, used as a bleaching agent.

Are sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate environmentally friendly?

Yes, both are considered eco-friendly and biodegradable.

Can sodium carbonate be used in laundry?

Yes, it's commonly used to soften water and enhance detergent effectiveness.

Is sodium percarbonate found in all cleaning products?

It's found in many, but not all, particularly those labeled as oxygen bleaches.

Is sodium percarbonate safe for colored fabrics?

It's generally safe but should be used as directed, especially on delicate colors.

Does sodium carbonate have a strong odor?

No, it's odorless.

How does sodium percarbonate affect the environment?

It breaks down into water, oxygen, and sodium carbonate, making it environmentally safe.

Can sodium carbonate be used for cooking?

It's used in some food applications, but primarily in cleaning.

How does sodium carbonate affect pH levels?

It's alkaline and can increase the pH level of solutions.

What makes sodium percarbonate a good bleaching agent?

It releases hydrogen peroxide, an effective bleaching and disinfecting agent.

Does sodium carbonate disinfect surfaces?

While it cleans, it doesn't have strong disinfecting properties.

What are the risks of using sodium carbonate?

It can be irritating to the skin and eyes if not handled properly.

Can I use sodium carbonate to clean my pool?

Yes, it's used to maintain and adjust the pH balance in pools.

Is sodium percarbonate suitable for stain removal?

Yes, especially for organic stains like food and wine.

How does sodium percarbonate work in laundry detergents?

It releases oxygen to brighten and disinfect fabrics.

Is sodium percarbonate safe for septic systems?

Yes, it's safe for septic systems when used as directed.

Can sodium percarbonate be used to clean carpets?

Yes, it can be used in carpet cleaning solutions for stain removal.

How should I store sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate?

Store in a cool, dry place, away from moisture and direct sunlight.

Can I mix sodium carbonate with other cleaning agents?

It should be used as directed, as mixing chemicals can be dangerous.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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