- Atomic Number: 11
- Atomic Weight: 23
- Boiling Point: 883 °C (1621 °F)
- Melting Point: 8 °C (208 °F)
- Discovered by: Sir Humphry Davy in 1807
Sodium is a metallic element which,in the periodic table, belongs to the alkali group. Because of compound, sodium chloride, it is one of the most known metals. Sodium chloride is common table salt which we use in our food. It has an atomic number of 11 and is silvery white in colour.
Characteristics and Properties
Sodium readily reacts with moisture in the atmosphere and is a highly reactive element. Pure sodium metal,when comes in contact with skin, burns the skin since it readily reacts with moisture present in the skin. Moreover, in case we throw a bar of sodium metal in a water pool, the reaction will be very fast and an explosion may take place. Sodium is a very soft metal which can be sliced with a knife very easily, in the same way as butter.
A few more characteristics and properties of sodium are as follows:
- Very soft
- Highly reactive
- A good conductor of both heat and electricity
- A paramagnetic metal
- Forms compounds which are generally soluble in water
Generally, sodium is directly utilised in its compounds like table salt, baking soda and a few other compounds. For our body to function in a proper way,we need sodium chloride or table salt regularly. Sodium chloride is also utilised in a large amount for de-icing the roads, anti-icing and for preserving purpose. Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda is another commonly used compound of sodium. It is used in cooking of a number of dishes like bread, cakes and pancakes. In addition, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a strong alkali which is generally used to prepare washing powders and soaps.
In the metallic form,sodium is also used in a number of industries and products. However, most of the sodium metal is utilised for producing sodium azide, indigo and sodium borohydride. A number of batteries under development use sodium compounds for charging and recharging purposes.
On this planet, sodium is one of the most abundant elements, which is at number 6 in the list of abundant elements.Because of high reactivity,sodium is never found in its pure metallic form. Instead, it is found in different compounds which are very abundant, e.g., sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is very abundant compound extracted from seawater and mines. By electrolysing sodium chloride,most of the sodium metal is obtained.
Since ancient times,the compounds of sodium, like sodium chloride, were already in use by the people. But until Sir Humphry Davy isolated sodium in 1807 by electrolysis,it in its elemental form was not recognised. Jakob Berzelius, in 1814, derived the abbreviation of sodium, Na, from a Latin word natrium.
- Around 6% of the earth’s crust is made up of sodium compounds.
- Sodium chloride improves the digestion of food and helps our body in maintaining fluid levels.
- When sweating and urinating,the human body loses sodium chloride. Hence, consumption of sodium chloride every day is essential. However, people generallyconsume sodium chloride more than needed.