If you've read through some of my earlier posts, you understand the problem caused by sodium in wastewater when there is clay in local soil. Over time, a nonabsorbent hardpan condition forms in the septic system drain field. So, if sodium is so bad, why is it in most of our detergents and many of our water softeners?
Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate and Sodium Sesquicarbonate all have applications within detergents either directly into laundry and dishwashing powders and tablets, or as raw material/processing aid in the production of other detergent chemicals.
Sodium Carbonate has many attributes that make it an ideal detergent ingredient; source of alkalinity, high buffering capacity, absorbency which enable it to act as a carrier for liquid components, filler, agglomeration aid and a water softener (builder) removing calcium and magnesium ions by precipitation
Sodium Bicarbonate has a lower pH in solution and is substituted for Sodium Carbonate where a 'milder' detergent formulation is required. The limited solubility of Sodium Bicarbonate may also be advantageous in formulating hard surface cleaners.
Sodium Sesquicarbonate has an intermediate pH between Sodium Carbonate and Bicarbonate. It displays superior builder properties to Bicarbonate and may be formulated directly into detergents. Alternatively, Sodium Sesquicarbonate may be added to a washing machine as a separate component and act as a water softener.
As you can see, sodium plays a large part in many of the cleaning and laundering formulas we use every day. It can also cause septic system failure over the long haul, especially in soil containing clay.
One solution is to use a chemical product like Septic Perc on a regular basis to keep the clay in the soil from forming a bond and turning into hardpan.