A closer look at sodium (Ne)

Can sodium metal kill you?

The sodium blog icon

Michiel Bester | Updated: June 2022

Sodium is the wonderful metal in common table salt, but did you know it floats on water?

Sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate are compounds used daily in every household. But the element behind these compounds is much less innocent. Pure sodium will cause a violent exothermal reaction when it comes into contact with water.

Properties of the sodium

Atomic Number:11
Atomic Symbol:Na
Atomic Weight (amu):22.990
Melting point:97.79°C | ​208.03°F | 370.94K
Boiling point:882.94°C | 1621.29°F | 1156.09K

What does pure sodium look like?

Sodium is a soft silver-white metal, with a similar appearance to lithium. Similar to lithium, sodium is usually stored in a closed container in kerosene or mineral oil, to prevent or limit the reaction with oxygen in the air.

What is pure sodium used for?

Pure sodium is used in the production of titanium.

Liquid sodium is used as a heat exchanger in nuclear power plants.

Sodium is also used as a reagent in the chemical industry.

But the uses for sodium compounds are much greater than that of pure sodium metal.

What are the main compounds with sodium

The most common sodium compound is sodium chloride, which is normal table salt, used on food and to throw on iced roads.

Most likely the second most useful compound is sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda, which is used as a water softener.

Baking soda also contains sodium and is used in cooking.

Where can sodium be found?

Sodium is the fourth most abundant element on earth, comprising about 2.6% of the earth's crust. It is the most abundant of the alkali group of metals and appears in nature as common salt, which forms the mineral halite, which is about 80% of the dissolved constituents in seawater.

Sodium is now produced commercially through the electrolysis of molten sodium chloride, based on a process patented in 1924.

Is sodium expensive?

Metallic sodium is priced at about 15 to 20 cents per pound and is the cheapest of the light metals.

Will we ever run out of sodium?

Ordinary seawater contains a high percentage of sodium and there is currently no indication that we will be running out of sodium any time soon.

Can sodium be recycled

In theory, sodium could be recycled and reused, but there is no economic reason to recycle sodium since it is naturally recycled back into the earth's crust and water.

Who discovered the sodium element?

Salt and other sodium-containing compounds have been used long before the discovery of the element sodium. Sir Humphry Davy, a British chemist, discovered sodium in 1807. He found the element by isolating it from caustic soda using electrolysis

Is sodium dangerous

Pure sodium metal is highly reactive and should never be brought near water or any moist surface (like your mouth for instance) without the proper protection. When pure sodium makes contact with water it forms hydrogen, which burns violently and it would therefore probably result in death if swallowed by a human or animal.

Sodium is an essential part of the human diet and is usually ingested through the compound sodium chloride (common salt), however too much salt in a diet can not only raise an individual's blood pressure but also become poisonous, which could lead to seizures, coma and death.

Fun facts about sodium

  • Sodium burns with a bright yellow light. Sodium is used in fireworks to produce bright yellow sparks.
  • Sodium metal doesn’t burn when it comes in contact with water but produces hydrogen, which gives the impression that the sodium is burning.
  • Salt overdose is possible, in 2013, doctors reported on the case of a 19-year-old man who went into a coma after chugging a bottle of soy sauce.

Funny sodium Jokes, Puns and One-Liners

What kind of fish is made up of only two sodium atoms? 2 Na

What do you call a gun made of Sodium Chloride? A-salt rifle