The glass industry began in Wheeling in 1821, and there a process was discovered by which in 1864 for soda ash bicarbonate of lime was substituted, and a lime glass was made which was as fine as lead glass; other factors contributing to the localization of the manufacture of glass here are the fine glass sand obtained in the state and the plentiful supply of natural gas for fuel Transportation and Commerce.
The process of manufacturing soaps by boiling fatty acids with caustic alkalis or sodium carbonate came into practice with the development of the manufacture of candles by saponifying fats, for it provided a means whereby the oleic acid, which is valueless for candle making, could be worked up. The combination is effected in open vats heated by a steam coil and provided with a stirring appliance; if soda ash be used it is necessary to guard against boiling over.
A certain proportion of soda ash (carbonate of soda) is also used in some works in sheet-glass mixtures, while " decolorizers " (substances intended to remove or reduce the colour of the glass) are also sometimes added, those most generally used being manganese dioxide and arsenic. Another essential ingredient of all glass mixtures containing sulphate of soda is some form of carbon, which is added either as coke, charcoal or anthracite coal; the carbon so introduced aids the reducing substances contained in the atmosphere of the furnace in bringing about the reduction of the sulphate of soda to a condition in which it combines more readily with the silicic acid of the sand.
Of the sodium silicates the most important is the mixture known as soluble soda glass formed by calcining a mixture of white sand, soda-ash and charcoal, or by dissolving silica in hot caustic soda under pressure.
Most of the carbonate which now occurs in commerce is made from the chloride of the Stassfurt beds by an adaptation of the "Leblanc process" for the conversion of common salt into soda ash (see Alkali Manufacture).