A thousand uses for a thousand occasions: the Italian Solvay sodium bicarbonate success story

Sodium bicarbonateClick to enlarge

Mille usi per mille occasioni” (A thousand uses for a thousand occasions). This is the claim you can read on packs of Solvay sodium bicarbonate found in Italian supermarkets. As the market leader in Italy for domestic use, Solvay is synonymous with sodium bicarbonate. 

Ernest Solvay started to produce and commercialize sodium bicarbonate when he developed the ‘Solvay Process’ in the 1860s to produce soda ash – an important raw material in various industrial processes, including glassmaking and water purification. In the Solvay Process, CO2 is injected into the soda ash to produce sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).

Safe and usable in every room of the house

Sodium bicarbonate on PinterestClick to enlarge

For decades sodium bicarbonate has been used in Italy to clean fruit and vegetables before they are prepared for the table. But there are so many uses Solvay has created a dedicated website and pages on Facebook and Pinterest where people can ask questions and share information. It’s a great way for us to engage and interact with our customers.

The website is very popular in Italy with more than 421,000 visits each year. It’s not surprising because you can find the answers to so many needs in one inexpensive product. Domestically sodium bicarbonate can be used to clean vegetables and fruit and to eliminate odors. In fact, you can use it to clean everything from food to clothes, and from floors to ceilings.

Sodium bicarbonate is also a human-friendly product. When it comes into contact with bodily fluids, it dissociates into sodium and bicarbonate ions. Even if you ingest it, the sodium bicarbonate will be neutralized in your stomach by gastric acid. Sodium bicarbonate is also not aggressive to the environment, making it a very sustainable product.

Every year, a Solvay advertising campaign is run in the media and on TV in Italy to promote sodium bicarbonate. In 2013 we also launched an annual contest in Italy to promote the brand. During the 2015 competition, we gave away 50 smartphones to the lucky sweepstake winners. We are working to finalize the 2016 competition which will begin in May and run online and in retail shops. It’s open to anyone who buys Solvay branded sodium bicarbonate in Italy.

Sodium bicarbonate continues to answer society’s needs

As well as being used in baking as a raising agent, sodium bicarbonate also has applications in both the human and animal food chains as wells pharmaceuticals, detergents, cosmetics, environmental protection, and many domestic tasks. Today Solvay is still one of the world’s largest producers of sodium bicarbonate.

We really believe that sodium bicarbonate is a wonder product. A century and a half after it was first produced on an industrial scale, sodium bicarbonate is able to provide innovative solutions which answer worldwide market trends. It’s as useful in modern life as it was when it became one of Solvay’s first products over 150-years ago.