The Elements: Volume 1 - A closer look at SODIUM
Could you live without it? Na...
Welcome to the first installment of Global Science’s new section: The Elements! Today, you will learn about one of the most important elements in our world, SODIUM!
If you’re anything like our reporters over here, maybe when you were younger, you've asked to pass the sodium at the dining table, to sound all smart and fancy. However, sodium, the element, is much more than its usage in salt. Read on to find out more.
A Little History: It's Discovery
Blast Off: The Basics
It is located with wonderful group 1, the Akali metals. Being on row 3, sodium has 3 electron shells. 11 electrons being split over 3 shells means one valence electron on the last shell. From this we can already tell that sodium must be a very reactive element who's always trying to lose that one electron to be balanced. On top of that, this cool element is a metal and solid at room temperature. RAD!
Judging Elements By Their Cover: Physical Properties
- Color: silver-grey
- Phase: solid
- Density: 0.968g/cm^3
- Melting point: 97.72 degrees Celsius
- Boiling point: 883 degrees Celsius
- Malleability: high
- Ductility: easily pulled and stretched
- Luster: shiny
- Conductivity: can conduct heat and electricity well
- Hardness: very soft, can be cut with a knife
Friends and Reactions: Chemical Properties
- Reacts explosively with water, creating sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. When the reaction occurs, heat is produced and ignites the hydrogen gas, causing a fire.
- Reacts with oxygen and forms sodium oxide instantly.
- Reacts with the halogen family to create ionic salts. An example would be chlorine and sodium forming sodium chloride, what we know as table salt.
- Is flammable, and burns a yellow-gold flame
Where Is It Found?
So How Does This Tie In With You Today?
Other uses for sodium include creating a yellow glow in street lamps and exchanging heat in some nuclear reactors. This element is also very useful in the kitchen, Sodium chloride, table salt, is used to season almost all our meals. It is also used to cure many foods, preserving meats for long amounts of time. Sodium Bicarbonate, otherwise know as baking soda, is important as a leavening agent in baked goods.
Try to imagine a world with no salt, or preserved meat. Yeah, that's how important sodium is! Next time you eat anything, think about the salt in it and what it does for your body.
- NaCl (sodium chloride)
- NaOH (sodium hydroxide)
- NaSO (sodium sulfate)
- NaNO (sodium nitrite)
- NaF (sodium fluoride)
- NaCO (sodium carbonate)