Caustic Soda - Your Diet Cola

Caustic Soda is actually a scientific name for industrially produced chlorine from the compound sodium chloride. I constantly remind consumers that sodium chloride can be found as a natural form, and as a man-made compound. There is a big difference between these two forms - the body uses the natural compound as a form of nutrition, and the other can become toxic when consumed.

When created by nature, sodium chloride is a natural combination of both sodium and chlorine, found in many salts in geologic deposits. It forms from the slow evaporation of ancient seawater, and has health qualities that cleanse the liver, assist the nervous system, and stimulate brain function. And don't forget that human beings are salt water creatures.

Now, humans can create sodium chloride in a laboratory when electricity is applied to a salt-water solution of sodium and chlorine. Unlike in nature, this type of sodium chloride produces chlorine gas (Cl2), caustic soda (NaOH) and hydrogen gas (H2). Laboratory chlorine gas cannot be made without producing caustic soda, so chlorine and caustic soda are known as "co-products." But, chlorine in your diet soda?

Chlorine is one of the most useful chemical elements used in manufacturing because chlorine is a very reactive element - so reactive, in fact, it is commonly found compounded with other elements in many forms. Hospitals to swimming pools use chlorine-based compounds (such as bleach) for disinfectants. About 85 percent of the top-selling medicines are manufactured using chlorine chemistry. Chlorine is used to manufacture flexible plastics such as vinyl (polyvinyl chloride). It's in bleach and many cleaning compounds, found in pesticides and herbicides, and in chemical weapons, such as "mustard gas." Chlorine helps ensure that products like disposable diapers and paper towels are strong and absorbent. And don't forget, chlorine is now found in hundreds of sugar-free food products, including children's foods.

Chlorine in your diet soda? In your child's diet soda?

When you eat or drink sodium chloride, make sure you are consuming nature's compound, like sea salt - NOT a man-made form of chlorine. And when you eat or drink man-made chlorine, make sure to note the difference between sodium chloride and chlorine without the sodium, like in Splenda®. Sucralose is NOT sodium chloride - it is just chlorine. Three atoms of chlorine, to be more exact, combined with one atom of sucrose (sugar); and this forms sucrose chloride, something nature has never seen. Most people assume sodium chloride is the chlorine form in Splenda, but it is not.

Chlorine is commonly found in nature, but it is always in combination with other natural building block elements. Chlorine's structure makes it very reactive because its atomic outer shell is missing one electron, which makes it attractive to other atoms and molecules - very attractive. Because it is so reactive, it is very useful to chemists, engineers and manufacturers making things we use every day. Chlorine by volume is the ninth most copious chemical produced in the United States. It has been exploited, though, and is now used in thousands of products; diverse items such as cars, computers, pharmaceuticals, and military flak jackets.

And now, humans have put chlorine in diet sugar substitutes called sucralose. Again, I am not talking about sodium chloride; I am referring to just chlorine.

When combined with other chemical building blocks, chlorine can change the nature of a substance, and build or improve a product. This is one reason why chlorine was selected to be the substitute "atom" for the sucrose molecule in which to make Splenda, 1,6-dichloro-1, 6-dideoxy-BETA-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-alpha-D-galactopyranoside.

Do you see sodium anywhere in here? Nope, just chlorine.

The FDA has said small amounts of Splenda are safe, but numerous concerns have been raised since its laboratory inception. And typically when people use these chemical sweeteners, they don't use "just small amounts" throughout the day; small amounts accumulate into TOO MUCH overuse by the end of the day.

Should humans EAT and DRINK chlorine or simply use it for manufactured goods, such as weapons, pesticides and bleach? To answer this question, I recommend learning about the properties of chlorine. Put on your lab coat, and let's have some fun with chlorine chemistry.

Chlorine Chemistry: Every time you drink a glass of water, read a newspaper, put on a vinyl raincoat, brush your teeth, drive your car, or drink a diet cola with sucralose, you are using chlorine in some form. When combined with other chemicals, chlorine can change the nature of a substance, creating a new product.

The most common industrial use of chlorine is in the manufacture of a versatile plastic known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC is a polymer, meaning that on a microscopic level, many small units of the same types of atoms are bound together to form long chains, similar to the linking of multiple paper clips. PVC pipes resist the pitting and corrosion common in metal pipes that can also develop a slimy build-up of disease-causing microbes known as "biofilm." Elevated levels of chlorine disinfectant can destroy biofilms. And we are all familiar with common household bleach.

To be used in manufacturing, chlorine must first be separated from the other elements with which it is combined. Manufacturers use a process known as "electrolysis", which breaks down salt water into basic components, including chlorine. Since opposite charges attract, the negative chloride ions collect at the positive poles and form chlorine gas. The gas is dried, chilled and pressurized, or converted to liquid for storage and shipping. There's your chlorine!

Health Hazards: Chlorine vapors can irritate your lungs and pose a serious risk to people who suffer from asthma and other lung problems. Breathing the fumes of cleaners containing a high concentration of chlorine can irritate the lungs and burn the eyes. This is especially true for people suffering from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema. The risks are compounded when cleaners are used in small, poorly ventilated rooms. Cancer causing, chlorine chemicals found in many household products can be readily absorbed through the skin, so wear rubber gloves.

Chlorine is also a highly corrosive substance capable of damaging the skin, eyes, and other delicate membranes. Remember how your eyes burn after swimming in a highly chlorinated pool of water? Well, now you understand why.

Research shows that pregnant women in their first trimester who drink five or more glasses of chlorinated tap water a day may be at a much higher risk of miscarriage than women who drink non-chlorinated water.

See why learning about chlorine is so important to your health? Knowledge is power. As an educated consumer, you have the awareness to choose what chemicals you and your family will ingest. Unnatural artificial sweeteners containing chlorine may affect your health. Why take the chance?

While cleaning your bathroom, you wouldn't even consider adding some sugar to the bleach and drinking it. So why reach for a diet cola with caustic soda? Good question! Maybe you can use that diet cola to scrub your shower...

Posted May 2009 | Permanent Link

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