Calcium lignosulfonate and sodium lignosulfonate are both derivatives of lignin, a natural polymer that is obtained from the pulping process of wood or bamboo. They have similar chemical structures, but differ in some properties and applications. Here are some key distinctions:

  • Cationic Form: The main difference lies in the cation associated with the lignosulfonate. Sodium lignosulfonate is in its sodium salt form, where the sulfonic acid groups in lignin are neutralized by sodium ions (Na+). In contrast, calcium lignosulfonate is in its calcium salt form, with the sulfonic acid groups neutralized by calcium ions (Ca2+).
  • Solubility: Sodium lignosulfonate is highly water-soluble, meaning it readily dissolves in water to form a solution. On the other hand, calcium lignosulfonate has lower solubility in water and may require more agitation or higher temperatures to achieve complete dissolution.
  • pH: Sodium lignosulfonate has a higher pH value than calcium lignosulfonate, due to the presence of more sodium ions. This makes sodium lignosulfonate more alkaline and less acidic than calcium lignosulfonate.
  • Applications: Both calcium and sodium lignosulfonates have a wide range of applications in various industries, such as construction, ceramics, agriculture, oil and gas, etc. They are mainly used as dispersants, binders, adhesives, chelating agents, and emulsifiers. However, some applications may prefer one salt over the other, depending on the desired properties and performance. For example:
  • In the construction industry, calcium lignosulfonate is more commonly used as a water-reducing agent and a concrete admixture, as it can improve the workability, strength, and durability of concrete. Sodium lignosulfonate is also used as a water-reducing agent, but it may cause corrosion of steel bars in concrete due to its high alkalinity.
  • In the ceramic industry, calcium lignosulfonate is used to reduce carbon content and improve green strength of ceramic products. It also reduces the sintering time and increases the yield of ceramic products. Sodium lignosulfonate is also used as a dispersant and binder in ceramic products, but it may cause cracking or deformation due to its high water absorption.
  • In the agriculture industry, calcium lignosulfonate is used as a fertilizer dispersant, an ingredient in animal feed, and a dust suppressant. It also acts as a soil chelator, where calcium is used as a nutrient for plants. Sodium lignosulfonate is also used as a fertilizer dispersant and a dust suppressant, but it may not be suitable for sodium-deficient soils or crops.
  • In the oil and gas industry, sodium lignosulfonate is used as a dispersant and a viscosity reducer for drilling fluids and cement slurries. It also helps prevent the formation of scale and improve the flow of oil and gas. Calcium lignosulfonate is also used as a dispersant and a viscosity reducer, but it may cause precipitation or flocculation due to its lower solubility.