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The alkali leaching of two aluminosilicates, kaolinite and metakaolinite, with aqueous NaOH has been studied. Both silicates gave hydroxysodalite (HS) with or without the evanescent zeolite NaA. X-ray diffraction and high-resolution 29Si and 27Al MAS-NMR spectroscopy provide information about the reaction sequence of the clay. The conversion starts with the formation of an amorphous gel precursor at a rate which depends on the alkali concentration but not on the choice of kaolinite or metakaolinite as starting material. The rate of zeolitization of this gel is much faster when it is obtained from kaolinite, probably because it is more homogeneous.