Sodium with symbol Na is the sixth most profuse chemical element in the crust of the earth. In sea water, sodium occupies second position behind chloride. This highly reactive soft metal is the most prominent alkaline metal. The most common compound form of the Sodium is common salt. (Sodium Chloride- NaCl). The metal exists in various forms like feldspars, sodalite and rock salt.
Sodium reacts swiftly with water and other forms of water say, snow and ice. Sodium hydroxide fumes are produced when sodium reacts with water. These fumes cause irritation to skin, nose and eyes. Sodium reacts with oxygen at normal temperature while reaction with hydrogen happens only at very high temperatures, above 200ºC. Though it reacts with halogen, it does not react with carbon.
Sodium finds its applications in the production of esters and organic compounds. Sodium chloride is an inevitable compound. Common salt and many other sodium compounds are widely used in food industry for taste and as preservatives. Sodium is used for purification of molten metals and descal metals, as de-icing agent and in soaps and sodium vapor lamps. Glass is made from sodium carbonate. Liquidy sodium has high thermal conductivity. Hence it is applied as heat transfer agent in fast reactors.
Humphry Davy isolated Sodium for the first time in 1807 through the electrolysis process.
Sodium is necessary for human body to maintain proper balance of fluid system and for functioning of nerves and muscles. However, medical world is against unrestricted usage of sodium compounds. Studies have revealed that lower intake of sodium reduces blood pressure and hypertension. Doctors are against usage of more than 1.5 gm of sodium per day as otherwise it may negatively affect normal functioning of human body. Why is sodium kept under kerosene?