Sodium was first isolated in 1807, by Sir Humphrey Davy through the electrolysis of caustic soda. Its symbol, Na, comes from the Latin name 'natrium', which is a common sodium compound. Sodium is a soft, silvery-white colored element, which can be cut with a knife at room temperature. It has a bright luster, however, this luster disappears when exposed to air. The atomic mass of the element sodium is 23, and the atomic number is 11. Since the valence of sodium is +1, it donates this single electron during chemical reactions, to form bonds.
Some Interesting Facts about Sodium
Some Interesting Facts about Sodium
- The density of alkali metals increases with increase in atomic number, however, sodium unlike the other alkali metals has a higher density as compared to potassium.
- Sodium has 13 isotopes, of which only one isotope is stable.
- Sodium cannot exist freely in nature and when brought in contact with air, readily oxidizes and forms oxides.
- When sodium is brought in contact with water, it explodes, forming sodium hydroxide along with the release of a large amount of heat.
- Sodium is the fourth most abundant element and makes up almost 2.6% of the Earth's crust. It is also relatively abundant in stars.
- Among the many interesting facts about sodium, one is that the sodium element is highly reactive, which makes the storage of pure sodium a Herculean task. The best way to store sodium safely is by immersing it into liquid hydrocarbons, such as kerosene.
- While working in the lab, students and lab assistants are expected to take the piece of elemental sodium out of the kerosene and cut a small piece with the knife. Thus, although elemental sodium bears semblance to a small rock, it is soft enough to be cut by a blunt knife.
- Sodium is used in some alloys, so as to improve their structure, and is used to descale the surface of many metals. Metallic sodium is used in the process of purifying some reactive metals, such as zirconium from their compounds.
- Sodium is used in several industries such as chemical, metal, paper, petroleum, textile, etc. where it is used to prepare sodium compounds such as common salt, baking soda, borax, sodium nitrate, etc.
- Sodium is also used to make vapor lamps, which are used in street lights. Vapor lamps can produce light from electricity very efficiently. It acts as a heat transfer liquid and is used in some nuclear reactors.
- Sodium is a significant ingredient in soap manufacturing along with fatty acids.
- More than 90% of the sodium present on the Earth is in the form of salt. Let's find out more about salt.
- Table salt, also known as sodium chloride or common salt, is a combination of the minerals sodium and chlorine: 40% sodium and 60% chlorine form sodium chloride. This compound of sodium is present in the modern food items in large quantities.
- Sodium is important to the body, as it along with potassium regulates the fluid balance in the body. Salt regulates blood pressure, aids nerve impulse transmission and along with other minerals, it helps in muscle contractions.
- Sodium chloride enhances or brings out the flavor of food items. It also affects the fermentation in cheese processing, and bread dough development. It is important to texture baked good made with yeast.
- Sodium chloride is used for preservation of food products, such as pickles and other canned products. It protects them from the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast. Food items with the words cured, smoked, pickled and brine indicate that the food product has high levels of sodium. It also helps hold the processed meat together, such as pepperoni, salami, sausage, etc.
- Common salt can be sprinkled over cupboards to keep the ants away. They can be also used to clean coffee pots, and can be added to the water in the vase to keep flowers alive for a longer time.
- The recommended amount of sodium intake should not be more than 2.4 grams in a day. This is tantamount to one teaspoon a day. However, with the junk food intake these days, sodium is consumed in way higher quantities than actually needed by the body. In healthy people, the excess sodium is excreted, however, the excess amount can spearhead kidney diseases, hypertension or other diseases. Sodium from common salt can have a negative impact on the health of people suffering from hypertension.
- Low levels of sodium in the blood is called hyponatremia, while high levels of sodium in the blood can result in water retention in extremities, osteoporosis and high blood pressure conditions. However, a deficiency of sodium is rarely seen.
- These days low sodium salt is available, which claims to contain 15% low sodium. However, if one molecule of sodium and chlorine have to combine to form salt, how does this salt contain lesser amounts of sodium. This is because 15% potassium chloride to added sodium chloride, thereby reducing the total amount of sodium chloride in the salt by 15%.