Sodium carbonate (known as washing soda or soda ash) is a chemical found in many household and industrial products. This article focuses on poisoning due to sodium carbonate.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Sal soda poisoning; Soda ash poisoning; Disodium salt poisoning; Carbonic acid poisoning; Washing soda poisoning
Severe pain in the mouth, throat, chest, or abdominal area
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person one glass of water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a provider. DO NOT give water or milk if the person is having symptoms (vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
If readily available, determine the following information:
The person's age, weight, and condition
The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
The time it was swallowed
The amount swallowed
In the United States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
What to expect at the emergency room
The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including:
Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:
EKG (electrocardiogram or heart tracing)
Endoscopy, a camera is moved down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
Fluids (intravenous or through the vein)
Medicines to treat symptoms
X-rays of chest and abdomen
Sodium carbonate is usually not very toxic. However, if you swallow very large amounts, you may have symptoms. In this rare situation, long-term effects, even death, are possible if you do not receive quick and aggressive treatment.
Sioris, LJ, Schuller, HK. Soaps, Detergents, and Bleaches. In: Shannon, MW, ed. Shannon: Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 102.
Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.