Kaun, Akaun or Kanwa is not Potash. Potash comes from the word Pot Ash. It refers to salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form like potassium chloride, potassium bi carbonate.
What then is Kaun, Akaun, Kanwa?
Kaun, Akaun, or Kanwa is TRONA.
Trona is Sodium Sesquicarbonate dihydrate. It is a geological mineral found in the thick bed deposits of Lake Chad and Yobe Troughs. It is mined in commercial quantity in Bauchi, Yobe, and Borno States in Nigeria. It can coexist with other minerals such as Natron, Thermonatrite, Halite, and Gypsum.
It is the second most commonly-used salt in Nigeria. In the United States, it is the primary source of Sodium carbonate (Soda Ash). Soda as is used as water softener and can be used to remove oil and grease stains. Soda Ash is also used in textiles, paper, chemicals and glass production.
In Nigeria, Trona is more popular for its food additive role. It is often used to tenderize foods and reduce cooking time. Foods involving beans, maize, bones are often the recipients of trona’s softening ability. It is also used in mucilaginous soups to increase the viscosity.
Interestingly, Trona adds to the mineral content of foods they have been included in. But at what price?
Studies as far back as 1974 have shown Trona to be dangerous for infants, causes cardiac failure in fetuses, stomach upset and diarrhea in other individuals especially those who consume it in high concentration.
Recent studies (2013, 2016) have still reported possible damage to the liver organ if consumed for a long time. Trona also possesses some heavy metals such as cadmium and lead.
The evidence is clear. Infants and pregnant women should not consume foods containing Trona. Adults should stay clear of it. Trona has many other uses and can be promoted by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals for other uses apart from food.
Kaun, Akaun, Kanwa, is Trona and not Potash.
- A Sodipo. How safe is the consumption of trona? American Journal of Public Health August 1993: Vol. 83, No. 8, pp. 1181-1181.
- E. Imafidon, I.D. Egberanmwen, I.P. Omoregie. Toxicological and biochemical investigations in rats administered “kaun” (Trona) a natural food additive used in Nigeria. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism. Volume 6, December 2016, Pages 22–25
- O. Ajiboye, Y.O. Komolafe, M.T. Yakubu, S.M. Ogunbode. Effects of trona on the redox status of cellular system of male rats. Toxicol Ind Health, 31 (2) (2013), pp. 179–187