I just read that Professor Davidovits of the Geopolymer Institute says water glass is one of the most important geopolymer ingredients, so let’s take a look at definitions of water glass from two sources.
“Water glass or soluble glass, colorless, transparent, glasslike substance available commercially as a powder or as a transparent, viscous solution in water. Chemically it is sodium silicate, potassium silicate, or a mixture of these. It is prepared by fusing sodium or potassium carbonate with sand or by heating sodium or potassium hydroxide with sand under pressure. Water glass is very soluble in water, but the glassy solid dissolves slowly, even in boiling water. Water glass has adhesive properties and is fire resistant. It is used as a detergent; as a cement for glass, pottery, and stoneware; for fireproofing paper, wood, cement, and other substances; for fixing pigments in paintings and cloth printing…”
“Sodium silicate is the common name for a compound sodium metasilicate, Na2SiO3, also known as water glass or liquid glass. It is available in aqueous solution and in solid form and is used in cements, passive fire protection, refractories, textile and lumber processing, and automobiles. Sodium carbonate and silicon dioxide react when molten to form sodium silicate and carbon dioxide.
Glauber made what he termed “fluid silica” in 1648 from potash and silica. Von Fuchs, in 1825, obtained what is now known as water glass by treating silicic acid with an alkali, the result being soluble in water, “but not affected by atmospheric changes”.
Sodium silicate is a white powder that is readily soluble in water, producing an alkaline solution. It is one of a number of related compounds which include sodium orthosilicate, Na4SiO4, sodium pyrosilicate, Na6Si2O7, and others. All are glassy, colourless and dissolve in water.
Sodium silicate is stable in neutral and alkaline solutions. In acidic solutions, the silicate ion reacts with hydrogen ions to form silicic acid, which when heated and roasted forms silica gel, a hard, glassy substance.
Concrete treated with a sodium silicate solution helps to significantly reduce porosity in most masonry products such as concrete, stucco, plasters. A chemical reaction occurs with the excess Ca(OH)2 (portlandite) present in the concrete that permanently binds the silicates with the surface making them far more wearable and water repellent
Fire protection: Sodium silicates are inherently intumescent. They come in prill (solid beads) form, as well as the liquid, water glass.
Water glass is a useful binder of solids, such as vermiculite and perlite. When blended with the aforementioned lightweight aggregates, water glass can be used to make hard, high-temperature insulation boards used for refractories, passive fire protection and high temperature insulations, such as moulded pipe insulation applications. When mixed with finely divided mineral powders, such as vermiculite dust (which is common scrap from the exfoliation process), one can produce high temperature adhesives. The intumescence disappears in the presence of finely divided mineral dust, whereby the waterglass becomes a mere matrix. Waterglass is inexpensive and abundantly available, which makes its use popular in many refractory applications.
Sodium silicate with additives was injected into the ground in order to harden it and thereby to prevent further leakage of highly radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in April, 2011. The residual heat carried by the water used for cooling the damaged reactors accelerated the setting of the injected mixture.”