This booklet, produced by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1978, is about chemicals whose initial development in Britain was based on salt (sodium chloride): Ammonia, chlorine, sodium carbonate and sulphuric acid. It also looks at the importance of common salt chemistry to the development of the entire heavy inorganic chemical industry.
Chemicals such as sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide are needed for modern versions of ancient processes for making glass (a mixed sodium-calcium silicate), soap (the sodium salt of acids derived from fats and oils), and textiles (when the two alkalies are used for scouring, dyeing and finishing). Their growth was one of the spectacular features of the first industrial revolution and approximately matched the growth of iron, steel and machinery industries.
The booklet also looks into how sulphuric acid and ammonia, neither of which contains sodium or chloride, arose from the salt-based industries.
Each chapter, covering one of the named chemicals includes a history of the chemical with descriptions of its uses and employment in production processes, details about sources and catalysts, and foreseen future developments.