What is Sodium? – It Compounds, Properties & Uses

What Is Sodium?

With the chemical symbol Na and atomic number 11, sodium is a soft, low melting point, silvery-white alkali metal or chemical element in Group 1 or IA of the periodic chart. The most well-known use of this element is one of the two components of table salt.

We get sodium chloride when sodium combines with chlorine (NaCl). As a salt, it’s also found in fertilizer. For commercial purposes, sodium has the lowest melting point of all the alkaline metals and is the most reactive. 

When sodium interacts rapidly with water, snow, or ice, sodium hydroxide is created. When exposed to sunlight, metallic sodium loses its silvery luster and develops an opaque, gray-colored layer of sodium oxide on top. Only at extremely high temperatures does sodium react with nitrogen, yet it does so to generate sodium amide when combined with ammonia in the presence of nitrogen.

Sodium metals

History of Sodium

In addition to soda, ancient civilizations had a working knowledge of sodium carbonate. The ancient Egyptians utilized it in the production of glass to preserve mummies as long back as 1370 BC when it was widely used.

Rather than pure soda, they employed a product called natron, which was mostly made up of soda and was mined from Natron Valley. Late in its history, Romans referred to it as “atrium” Latin.

Many early chemists argued and attempted to study the chemical composition of salt and soda for a long period. Sir Humphry Davy, a renowned British chemist, discovered the answer in 1807 while experimenting with molten salts.

Potassium was the first metal to be isolated using electrolysis when an electric current was passed through caustic potash (potassium hydroxide). A few days later, the chemist electrolyzed very dry, molten caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and discovered sodium.

According to Davy’s observations, it was “exceedingly bendable” and “far softer than any of the common metallic compounds” known until that time. Hydrogen was also released as a result of the decomposition of water.

After first considering the name’sodagen’ for the new metallic element, Sir Humphry Davy chose to go with sodium.  Sweden’s Jacob Berzelius preferred to call his new element “atrium”—the Latin term for sodium carbonate—and used ‘Na’ as a chemical symbol in his early periodic table to represent sodium.

Manufacturing of Sodium

Sodium is manufactured through the electrolysis of a fused mixture of NaCl and CaCl2. The temperature for electrolysis is substantially lower than the melting point of pure sodium chloride (803°C). Therefore, the challenges from the volatility of Na (boiling point 883°C) are considerably eliminated.

Under this circumstance, the discharge potential of the Na+ ion is lower than that of the Ca+2 ions. It is preferentially deposited with 1 to 2 percent calcium metal in a cylindrical steel cathode. Chlorine liberated by this production process at the central graphite electrode (anode) is collected through the nickel dome.

Alloys of Sodium

Potassium, calcium, and lead are among the elements of sodium alloys. Here are some alloys and their applications/properties that we’ll discuss. Various processes utilize the sodium-potassium alloy NaK (NaK acts as a heat transfer coolant, a reducing agent, and a catalyst).

With water and air, it is dangerously reactive to this alloy, NaK, which is generally a liquid at room temperature. The ternary alloy (NaKCs) contains potassium and cesium, and sodium amalgam (a sodium-mercury alloy) contains sodium. In aqueous solutions, sodium amalgam serves as a reducing agent.

Compounds of Sodium

1. Sodium Hydroxide

This common inorganic base is also known as “caustic-soda.” An electrolytic chloralkali method produces a white, crystalline solid with many applications.

2. Sodium Chloride

One of the most common salts globally, sodium chloride, is white and crystallized. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is well known for its use as table salt, which enhances food flavor. 

3. Sodium Carbonate:

White crystalline sodium carbonate, sometimes known as soda-ash,’ is soluble in water. As a culinary ingredient and household cleaner, alkaline salt can be made by mixing sodium chloride (salt) with lime (limestone). Baking soda can also be found under “washing soda,” which is a separate name.

4. Sodium Acetate

There’s a lot of water solubility in the sodium acetate known as “acetic acid,” or sodium acetate. Hand warmers contain this sodium ion source and serve as a seasoning agent in food.

5. Sodium Benzoate

Sodium hydroxide and benzoic acid make this white, odorless chemical. If sodium benzoate is submerged in water, it will “dissemble” into sodium and benzoic acid ions. As a food preservative, it is common to find this chemical.

6. Sodium Bicarbonate

At normal temperature, sodium bicarbonate is a white, crystalline powder. As it is commonly known, baking soda has a few applications as an antacid. It can, for example, neutralize excess stomach acid and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn and acid reflux.

7. Sodium Bromide

There are numerous applications for Sodium Bromide because it’s a white solid that dissolves well in water. Ions of bromine can be found in it. It can be used in many ways. This chemical is also formed when sodium hydroxide and hydrogen bromide combine. 

8. Sodium Citrate

Its substance is a white crystalline powder. It’s an alkalinizing substance.

9. Sodium Fluoride

The hydrofluoric acid is neutralized with bases to form this chemical. Water solubility makes it a white/green crystalline solid. It is also used as a preservative for wood and a pesticide and fluoride ion source.

10. Sodium Hypochlorite

The yellowish solution of sodium hypochlorite is a clear one. Chlorine and sodium hydroxide solutions react to make it. It is a common bleaching chemical applied to wastewater to mask unpleasant smells.

11. Sodium Iodide

Powdered sodium iodide comes in a colorless, odorless form. A hydroiodic acid solution and sodium carbonate are used to make it. The reagent sodium iodide is also used in organic syntheses quite frequently. Iodine insufficiency is prevented because it is a source of the mineral.

12. Sodium Nitrate

Many food preservatives contain sodium nitrate, both of which are safe. Specifically speaking, they are used to preserve various types of meat and cheese.

13. Sodium Phosphates

This category of compounds is composed of sodium, phosphorus, and oxygen atoms, and these atoms form the basis of the chemical structure.

14. Sodium Sulfate

Sodium sulfate is a white crystalline substance. It is mostly employed in the production sector. It is made by combining sodium chloride and sulfuric acid.

15. Sodium Sulfide

The sulfide of sodium is a white substance. A carbothermic reduction reaction is used to make it in the industrial setting.

Properties of Sodium

  • In comparison to neon’s stable structure, sodium has one additional electron. The first and second ionization energies are 495.8 kJ/mol and 4562 kJ/mol. Na+ ionic compounds are more prevalent than those with the Na+ anion.
  • Sodium has a crystalline structure and an extremely close color to silver.
  • It’s so malleable at room temperature that you can press your fingers into it to make leaves.
  • Hydrogen gas and a small amount of sodium are dissolved in water, resulting in the oxidation of sodium.
  • When exposed to air, sodium compounds tarnish just as quickly as potassium ones, albeit at a slower rate.

Uses of Sodium

  • The structure of some alloys is improved by using them in soaps, molten metal purification, and sodium vapor lamps.
  • Sodium is a component of sodium chloride, an essential substance for life. 
  • Solid sodium carbonate is required for the production of glass.
  • The creation of organic molecules and the generation of esters depend on sodium’s presence. 


Sodium is a component of the alkali metal family with lithium and potassium. Being one of the two ingredients in our table salt is potentially the biggest claim to fame. Sodium is not found free. However, sodium compounds are common. The most prevalent compound is sodium chloride or salt. Sodium occurs in various minerals, such as cryolite, soda niter, zeolite, amphibole, and sodalite.

How To Make Sodium Metal?