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Lesser-known Uses of Sodium Chloride That Might Just Shock You

Sodium Chloride Uses
Uses of sodium chloride are found in diverse fields. Presented below is detailed information on the uses or applications of common salt.
Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Sodium chloride (NaCl), universally known as common salt or table salt, is used as a food additive by people all over the world. But, did you know that apart from being used in recipes, salt has many other applications? Its uses are found in the manufacturing of paper and pulp, producing detergents and bath products, etc. Being a major source of sodium hydroxide and industrial chlorine, common salt is used in many industries.
What is Sodium Chloride Used for
We are all aware that the most common use of salt is to enhance the taste of food. But, apart from that, it is used for commercial, medicinal as well as household purposes.
Common Uses
Preservative: Since ancient times, salt has been used as a preservative. Although today many other preservatives are available, salt is still widely preferred. It is one of the constituents used in preservation of cheese, dairy products, meat, pickles and sauces.
Melting Ice: Sodium chloride has a property of lowering the melting point of ice. Therefore, it is spread on roads to melt the ice quickly. On the other hand, salt is added to ice cream mixture to lower the temperature of ice. This helps in freezing ice cream quickly.
Cleansing Agent: It has also been used as a cleansing agent since a long time. Stains can be cleaned by rubbing a cloth sprinkled with salt. It is also one of the ingredients of soap, detergent and shampoo.
Industrial Uses
Chlorine: Sodium chloride is widely used for the production of chlorine. The process of electrolysis is carried out wherein electric current is passed through the solution of sodium chloride (brine) to prepare the element chlorine. This element is used extensively for making PVC and pesticides.
Tanning: According to modern methods, salt is extensively used in tanning leather. In the initial process, animal hides are cured with salt so as to remove all the excess moisture and water from it. Salting helps in protecting hides from bacterial growth.
Textile: Salt is used extensively in textile industry, especially for dyeing. It is used as a medium to fix color dyes. It is the agent or the medium that actually helps in transferring dye on cloth. Salt is also one of the raw materials used for making dyes.
Fire Extinguisher: Sodium chloride is used to extinguish class D type of fire that is caused due to burning of metals like aluminum, magnesium potassium, etc. Granules of this compound are spread on the fire which creates a crust and smothers the fire.
Medical Uses
Tablets: Sometimes, there is excessive loss of sodium from our body due to dehydration or excess sweating. In that case, these tablets are prescribed as supplements to recover the lost salts.
IV (intravenous saline): One of the properties of salt is that it rises blood pressure. Therefore, the solution is used to treat people with low blood pressure. IV fluids are specifically used to treat dehydration, severe diarrhea, etc.
Ophthalmic Ointment: In some cases, solution of sodium chloride is used to treat swelling of cornea in the eye. Although it is beneficial to some extent, there are certain side effects associated with it. It is recommended to consult the doctor before going for this remedy.
Other Uses
  • Salt is extensively used in food industry. Apart from being used as a preservative, it is also used while baking, canning, to enhance color, for fermentation, as a seasoning agent, as a binding agent, etc.
  • Another use of sodium chloride is its application in softening hard water. Sodium ions in this compound help in getting rid of the hardness ions, and make the water soft.
  • Sea salt is useful for maintaining healthy blood sugar level.
  • Saltwater is used for gargling or even as a mouthwash.
  • Peeling eggs will be easier if eggs are boiled in water containing a pinch of salt.
  • Warm water with salt is used to clean feet and also relieve tiredness.
  • Oil spills on table, kitchen countertops, driveways, etc. can be cleaned using salt. Sprinkle salt on the spill, leave for 20-25 minutes; then clean off with a brush.
Sodium Chloride Chemical Profile
  • Molecular formula ~ NaCl
  • Melting point ~ 1474 °F (801 °C)
  • Boiling point ~ 2575 °F (1413 °C)
  • Crystal structure ~ Cubic

Now, on concluding, here is an interesting fact that you may have, probably, never heard of. We all cannot imagine having food without salt. But, Mahatma Gandhi (Father of the Nation - India) had restricted use of salt in his diet for nearly a decade. According to him, salt is used in food merely to enhance taste and there are no actual health benefits associated with it. Although, today there are divided opinions for the same, Gandhi noted that his saltless diet had actually proved to be healthy. That remains a debatable issue. But, on the other hand, we can aptly say that due to its numerous uses, sodium chloride is no less than a boon to mankind.