Sodium and Sodium Chloride are two chemical substances often mentioned in scientific publications, yet differ significantly in many respects. While sodium exists as an element on the periodic table, sodium chloride is made up of compounds composed of both elements combining into one compound form containing both sodium and chlorine elements. Here, we explore these differences as well as their properties, uses, and safety concerns associated with each.
People frequently mistake sodium and salt as synonymous, sodium is just one component of salt.1
Sodium occurs naturally in some foods and is frequently added as salt during production and preparation processes for flavor or preservative purposes.
Sodium plays an essential role in cell function, blood pressure control, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission as well as maintaining body fluid balance. While sodium consumption may contribute to optimal health benefits such as blood pressure regulation or muscle contraction and nerve transmission processes; excessive intake has been associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, and kidney stones2.2
This article describes the difference between Sodium and Sodium Chloride as well as its role in our bodies, risks associated with too much sodium consumption, and ways to cut back.
Sodium (Na) is an element with the chemical symbol Na and atomic number 11. This soft, silvery-white metal belongs to the alkali metal group of elements and exhibits highly reactive characteristics that make it useful in many chemical processes. The electron configuration for sodium is [Ne] 3s1, while it naturally exists as three isotopes: 23Na, 24Na, and 22Na – making its high level of reactivity beneficial in many instances of chemical transformations.
Sodium (Na) is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11, falling under Group I on the periodic table of elements. As the outermost electron of its valence electron set resides within its S orbital, sodium tends to donate it away forming Na+ cations that become stable; later leading to the formation of ionic compounds known as sodium salts.
Na-23 is the sole stable isotope of sodium; therefore we can take it as its standard atomic weight of 23. This metal appears silvery-white in color and its very soft properties allow us to cut it with ease using just a knife blade.
However, aluminum is highly reactive. Any time it cuts or scratches itself off – its bright silvery hue disappears due to the formation of oxide layers on its surfaces.
As its density is lower than water’s density, sodium floats on its surface while reacting vigorously with it and producing highly exothermic reactions, creating explosive heat releases when burning in the air. When burning takes place it emits an eye-catching yellow flame; sodium plays an essential role in living systems to balance osmotic balance, nerve impulse transmission, etc as well as synthesizing various chemicals or organic compounds used for synthesizing vapor lamps using its vapor technology.
Sodium in the Body
Sodium is used to transmit nerve impulses throughout your body and is present in every cell. A balance between sodium and other ions regulates cell pressure as well as your blood pressure levels.
Top Dietary Sources of Sodium
The CDC states that 40 percent of dietary salt comes from 10 different foods. Table salt is a common source, but the CDC also reports that 10 other foods account for 40% of dietary Sodium. Many of the foods on this list don’t have a salty taste.
- Cured meats
- Pasta is usually cooked in salted water
- Meat dishes
- Snack foods
Sodium chloride, commonly referred to as table salt, is an inorganic chemical composed of sodium and chlorine ions with its chemical formula being NaCl and is found as colorless crystals or white powder with an earthy taste. Found both naturally as deposits on Earth’s crust as well as produced through the evaporation of seawater it has numerous applications across food production, medicine, and industry. It ranks among one of the world’s most frequently utilized compounds used across many applications ranging from medicine, and industry to food products.
Sodium chloride, the chemical formula NaCl, can be described as an anionic compound composed of sodium cations and chloride anions that give seawater its characteristic salty taste. We refer to it simply as salt in daily terms.
Sodium chloride appears as colourless cubic crystals with an approximate molecular mass of 58.44g/mol and has an unusual cubic structure consisting of each sodium cation being surrounded by six chloride anions and vice versa – creating a face-centered cubic structure; there are electrostatic forces between different ions which create electrostatic forces between each pair of them.
Water is a highly polar solvent capable of dissolving sodium chloride into its parts – sodium and chloride ions respectively – before becoming enveloped by water molecules surrounded by more polarity molecules. Furthermore, sodium chloride solutions contain both anions and cations capable of conducting electricity, so an electric current can flow.
Chemical Composition of Sodium and Sodium Chloride
- Sodium: Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of elements. The electron configuration of sodium is [Ne] 3s1, and it has three naturally occurring isotopes: 23Na, 24Na, and 22Na. Sodium is known for its high reactivity, which makes it useful in many chemical reactions.
- Sodium Chloride: Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, is a compound composed of sodium and chlorine. Its chemical formula is NaCl, and it is a colorless crystal or white powder with a salty taste. Sodium chloride is found in large deposits in the earth’s crust, and it is also produced by evaporating seawater. It is one of the most commonly used compounds in the world, with a wide range of uses in food, medicine, and industry.
Differences between Sodium and Sodium Chloride
Sodium (Na) is a chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 11, while its compound, NaCl, has no such symbol or number; their key difference lies in that one contains both elements: one as an element while the latter as a compound with both.
Nadium appears as a silvery-white metal while sodium chloride appears as colorless cubic crystals, and their primary differences include that sodium reacts strongly when exposed to normal air while sodium chloride remains relatively unchanged by its exposure. Furthermore, sodium reacts explosively with water while sodium chloride dissolves without producing explosive reactions in the solution.
Sodium and Sodium Chloride have distinct molecular structures, reactions, and chemical properties; one is a pure element while the other is a compound composed of two. While sodium reacts quickly with other elements to form compounds, sodium chloride remains relatively inert and doesn’t react as readily with other substances.
- SodiumSodium has a silvery white, soft metal. It is easily cut by a knife. Its melting point is 97.8degC and its boiling point is 883degC. The metal sodium is highly reactive and can spontaneously ignite in the atmosphere. The physical properties of sodium and sodium chloride are also different. At room temperature, sodium is an easy-to-cut, white, silvery metal. In contrast, the white crystallized solid sodium chloride has a very high melting point and is very brittle. While sodium is a solid metal, salt is available in liquid and solid forms. Also, sodium, a metal with a high level of reactivity, can spontaneously ignite in the air. Sodium chloride, on the other hand, is stable and not flammable.
- Chloride of Sodium: Solubility is another key difference between sodium and chloride. While sodium isn’t very soluble, the chloride solution is. This is because sodium chloride forms a solution in water easily, but sodium doesn’t. Table salt is also called sodium chloride. It is a white, crystalline, brittle solid. The melting point is 801degC (1470degF), and the boiling point is 1465degC (26669degF). The solubility of sodium chloride in water increases as the temperature rises.
Uses of Sodium and Sodium Chloride
Sodium and Sodium Chloride have various applications across industries and applications.
Here are a few common ones of each substance:
- Sodium: The use of sodium can span multiple industries, from manufacturing chemicals, metals, and pharmaceuticals to battery production and use in nuclear reactors as coolant. Furthermore, sodium chloride treatments for dehydration or other medical ailments.
- Sodium Chloride: Sodium chloride has many applications both industrially and personally, from seasoning food with table salt to producing plastics and textiles; plus it is even used to de-ice roads during winter storms as well as preserve food supplies.
If handled incorrectly or consumed in high quantities, both Sodium and Sodium Chloride are hazardous.
Below are some safety issues associated with both substances:
- SodiumSodium can cause serious harm if in contact with air or water. Consuming too much sodium may also lead to other health issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Chloride Sodium: Sodium chloride can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. It may cause high blood pressure or heart disease. It is also dangerous to consume large amounts of sodium chloride or to have it come into contact with your eyes or skin.
Regarding its appearance, sodium is a soft silvery-white metal easily cut with a knife, boasting a shiny surface when freshly cut but quickly dulls and tarnishes with air exposure. In comparison, sodium chloride forms very hard crystalline solids which form cubic crystals often transparent yet still shiny; when mixed in water these form clear colorless solutions.
- SodiumAt normal room temperatures, sodium is an argent-white, soft metal with a melting temperature of 97.8degC. Due to its high reactivity, sodium is usually stored in kerosene or mineral oil to avoid it reacting with moisture or air.
- Chloride de Sodium: chloride de sodium is a white, crystalline solid. It is solid at any temperature and has a melting point of 801degC (1470degF). Table salt is a common name for it and is used to season and preserve food. Also, it is used by various industries such as water treatment and chemical manufacture.
If they are not handled properly or disposed of, both Sodium and Sodium Chloride pose an environmental risk.
- Salt: In particular, sodium is a metal with a high degree of reactivity. It can react violently and produce hydrogen gas, as well as heat. If sodium is handled incorrectly, this reaction could lead to a dangerous fire or explosion. The sodium can react with oxygen or halogens in the air, causing pollution.
- Chloride de sodium: Chloride of sodium is considered a substance with low environmental risk. Large amounts of sodium can have negative effects on an ecosystem. When large quantities of sodium chloride are used to de-ice roads and sidewalks during winter, runoff from the process can accumulate and increase salinity in nearby water bodies, potentially harming aquatic wildlife. If sodium chloride does not get disposed of properly, it will accumulate in the soil and water, damaging plant life, and possibly contaminating sources of drinking water.
Sodium and Sodium Chloridecan cause harm to the environment if not handled or disposed of properly. When working with these chemicals, it is vital to adhere to the proper safety measures and dispose of them by local laws.
- Sodium: The chemical symbol for sodium, Na, is a representation of a single sodium atom. The element sodium belongs to the group of alkali-metal elements. It has an atomic weight of 11 and is a member of this group.
- Chloride of sodium: The chemical formula for sodium chloride is NaCl. This represents a compound consisting of one sodium and one chloride atom. It is commonly known as table salt and is widely used for several purposes, such as food seasonings, industrial processes, and medical treatment. The ionic nature of sodium chloride means that it is made up of negatively and positively charged chloride ions.
Different processes are used to produce Sodium and Sodium Chloride
- SodiumSodium can be produced by electrolysis from molten sodium chloride, a process called the Downs Process. This process involves melting a mixture of sodium chloride with calcium chloride at high temperatures and passing an electric current through it to cause the separation of the chlorine and sodium ions. The sodium ions then attract the negatively-charged electrode (cathode) and are deposited in metallic sodium. The chlorine ions attract the positively-charged electrode (anode) and are released in the form of chlorine gas.
- Sodium Chloride: Sodium Chloride or table salt is produced by mining underground salt deposits, or by evaporating seawater. In the mining process, salt deposits from underground mines are extracted and crushed into smaller chunks. Purifying and processing the salt to remove impurities creates the desired product. The evaporation method involves pumping seawater into large tanks or shallow ponds and allowing it to evaporate under the sun. This leaves behind crystals of salt that can be harvested and processed.
Sodium and Sodium Chloride comparison chart
|A soft, silvery-white metal
|White crystalline solid
|State at Room Temperature
|Reactive metal poses fire and explosion hazards
|This can lead to soil and water salinization
|Produced through electrolysis of molten sodium chloride
|Mined or evaporated from seawater
|Used as a reducing agent, coolant, and in the production of organic compounds
|Used as a seasoning, de-icer, and in the production of chemicals, plastics, and medical treatments
Uses of Sodium and Sodium Chloride
Sodium and Sodium Chloride have a wide range of uses in various industries and applications.
Here are some of the most common uses of these substances:
Uses of Sodium:
- Sodium is used as a reducing agent in the production of many metals, such as titanium and zirconium.
- Sodium is used in the manufacturing of dyes, pharmaceuticals, and other organic compounds.
- Sodium is used as a coolant in nuclear reactors.
- Sodium is used in the production of synthetic rubber and plastics.
- Sodium is used in some types of batteries.
- Sodium is used as a desiccant to absorb moisture.
Uses of Sodium Chloride:
- Sodium chloride is commonly used as a seasoning and preservative in food.
- Sodium chloride is used in the production of chlorine and other chemicals.
- Sodium chloride is used in the production of detergents and soaps.
- Sodium chloride is used to de-ice roads and highways in winter.
- Sodium chloride is used in the manufacturing of PVC pipes and other plastic products.
- Sodium chloride is used in some medical treatments, such as saline solutions and intravenous fluids.
Sodium and Sodium Chloride play important roles in various industries and applications, making them essential substances in modern society.
Sodium and Sodium Chloride are two different substances with unique chemical and physical properties. While sodium is a pure element that is highly reactive, sodium chloride is a compound that is commonly used as table salt and has a wide range of other uses. It is important to understand the differences between these two substances and to use them safely and responsibly.