Difference Between Salt and Sodium

Main Difference – Salt vs Sodium

In chemistry, a salt is any compound that is formed due to the reaction between an acid and a base. A salt is composed of either a metal ion or any other cation bonded with an anion via an ionic bond. But in common terms, salt is a white crystalline substance that is used as a food additive. It is mainly composed of sodium chloride. Sodium is a chemical element in group 1 of the periodic table. It is a metal. The main difference between salt and sodium is that salt is a white crystalline compound that is composed of sodium chloride whereas sodium is a metallic element.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Salt
     – Definition, Chemical Properties
2. What is Sodium
     – Definition, Chemical Properties
3. What is the Relationship Between Salt and Sodium
4. What is the Difference Between Salt and Sodium
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Acid, Base, Cation, Ionic Bond, Metal, Salt, Sodium, Sodium Chloride

Difference Between Salt and Sodium - Comparison Summary

What is Salt

In chemistry, a salt is a chemical compound formed as a result of an acid-base reaction. But in common, salt is a white crystalline substance which gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food. We call this compound, table salt.

Salt can be obtained either from rock salt ores or seawater through evaporation. The most common and traditional method of salt production is the evaporation of sea water under direct sunlight. Here, the sea water is called brine solution. The brine solution is highly concentrated sea water. Salt is sodium chloride which is composed of sodium and chloride ions. Therefore it is an ionic compound.

Salt obtained from seawater contain some other compounds along with sodium chloride but in trace amounts. Salt crystals are translucent. They are cubic in shape. The salt crystals are white but the presence of impurities may alter the color. The melting point of salt is about 801 °C. The boiling point is about 1465 °C.

Difference Between Salt and Sodium

Figure 1: Table Salt

The molar mass of salt is considered as the molar mass of sodium chloride. It is 58.44 g/mol. Salt is very well dissolved in water forming sodium and chloride ions.

What is Sodium

Sodium is a chemical element having the atomic number 11 and chemical symbol “Na”. The atomic weight of sodium is about 22.98 amu.

Sodium is a metal. The melting point is 97.79 °C and the boiling point is 882.8 °C. At room temperature and pressure, sodium is in the solid phase. Although it has a metallic shiny appearance, it is a soft metal which can be easily cut using a knife. Sodium is in the group 1 of the periodic table. Therefore, it is an s block element. The group 1 elements are known as alkali metals. That is because they can form basic (alkaline) compounds.

Sodium is highly reactive. It readily reacts with oxygen and water. Hence, the metallic form of sodium has fewer applications. It cannot be used as a construction material because it is too soft and highly reactive. When burnt, sodium gives a yellow-orange flame. When a tiny piece of sodium is added to water, it shows a highly explosive reaction.

Main Difference - Salt vs Sodium

Figure 2: Reaction between Sodium and Water

Sodium forms a number of compounds that are very useful in laboratories as well as in industries. The salts of sodium are alkaline. Some important examples include table salt (NaCl), soda ash (Na2CO3), caustic soda (NaOH), borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O), etc.

Relationship Between Salt and Sodium

  • Salt is composed mainly of sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is a halide of sodium. It is an ionic compound formed by sodium. Sodium is a monovalent cation. Therefore, table salt is a sodium salt.

Difference Between Salt and Sodium

Definition

Salt: Salt is a white crystalline substance which gives seawater its characteristic taste.

Sodium:  Sodium is a chemical element having the atomic number 11 and chemical symbol “Na”.

Appearance

Salt:  Salt is white, cubic crystals that are translucent.

Sodium:  Sodium has a metallic appearance with a silvery-white color.

Nature

Salt: Salt crystals are hard and cubic in shape.

Sodium: Sodium is a soft metal.

Reaction with Water

Salt: Salt is well soluble in water.

Sodium: Sodium shows an exploding reaction with water.

Melting Point

Salt: The melting point of salt is 801 °C.

Sodium: The melting point of sodium is 97.79 °C.

Boiling Point

Salt: The boiling point of salt is 1465 °C.

Sodium: The boiling point of sodium is 882.8 °C.

Conclusion

Salt, in general, is table salt. It is mainly composed of sodium chloride along with some trace amounts of impurities. Sodium chloride is a sodium salt, which means, it is an ionic compound made of sodium cation bonded with an anion. The main difference between salt and sodium is that salt is a white crystalline compound that is composed of sodium chloride whereas sodium is a metallic element.

References:

1. “Salt.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Dec. 2017, Available here.
2. “The Element Sodium.” It’s Elemental. Available here.
3. “How to Make Sodium Metal.” WonderHowTo, 21 July 2014, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Table salt with salt shaker V1″ By Poyraz 72 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Sodium and Water” By Naatriumi_reaktsioon_veega_purustab_klaasist_anuma.jpg: Tavoromannderivative work: Tony Mach (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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