SODIUM is a chemical element with symbol NA (from Latin natrium) and
atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal .
Sodium is an alkali metal , being in group 1 of the periodic table,
because it has a single electron in its outer shell that it readily
donates, creating a positively charged atom—the Na+ cation . Its
only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature,
but must be prepared from compounds.
Sodium is the sixth most abundant
element in the Earth\'s crust , and exists in numerous minerals such
as feldspars , sodalite and rock salt (NaCl). Many salts of sodium are
highly water-soluble: sodium ions have been leached by the action of
water from the Earth\'s minerals over eons, and thus sodium and
chlorine are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the
Sodium was first isolated by
Humphry Davy in 1807 by the electrolysis
of sodium hydroxide . Among many other useful sodium compounds, sodium
hydroxide (lye ) is used in soap manufacture , and sodium chloride
(edible salt ) is a de-icing agent and a nutrient for animals
Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants.
Sodium ions are the major cation in the extracellular fluid (ECF) and
as such are the major contributor to the ECF osmotic pressure and ECF
compartment volume. Loss of water from the ECF compartment increases
the sodium concentration, a condition called hypernatremia . Isotonic
loss of water and sodium from the ECF compartment decreases the size
of that compartment in a condition called ECF hypovolemia .
By means of the sodium-potassium pump , living human cells pump three
sodium ions out of the cell in exchange for two potassium ions pumped
in; comparing ion concentrations across the cell membrane, inside to
outside, potassium measures about 40:1, and sodium, about 1:10. In
nerve cells , the electrical charge across the cell membrane enables
transmission of the nerve impulse—an action potential —when the
charge is dissipated; sodium plays a key role in that activity.
* 1 Characteristics
* 1.1 Physical
* 1.2 Isotopes
* 2 Chemistry
* 2.1 Salts and oxides
* 2.2 Aqueous solutions
* 2.3 Electrides and sodides
* 2.4 Organosodium compounds
* 2.5 Intermetallic compounds
* 3 History
* 4 Occurrence
* 4.1 Astronomical observations
* 5 Commercial production
* 6 Applications
* 6.1 Heat transfer
* 7 Biological role
* 8 Safety and precautions
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Bibliography
* 12 External links
Emission spectrum for sodium, showing the D line .
Sodium at standard temperature and pressure is a soft silvery metal
that combines with oxygen in air and forms grayish white sodium oxide
unless immersed in oil or inert gas, which are the conditions it is
usually stored in.
Sodium metal can be easily cut with a knife and is
a good conductor of electricity and heat because it has only one
electron in its valence shell, resulting in weak metallic bonding and
free electrons , which carry energy. Due to having low atomic mass and
large atomic radius, sodium is third-least dense of all elemental
metals and is one of only three metals that can float on water, the
other two being lithium and potassium. The melting (98 °C) and
boiling (883 °C) points of sodium are lower than those of lithium but
higher than those of the heavier alkali metals potassium, rubidium,
and caesium, following periodic trends down the group. These
properties change dramatically at elevated pressures: at 1.5 Mbar ,
the color changes from silvery metallic to black; at 1.9 Mbar the
material becomes transparent with a red color; and at 3 Mbar, sodium
is a clear and transparent solid. All of these high-pressure
allotropes are insulators and electrides . A positive flame test
for sodium has a bright yellow color.
In a flame test , sodium and its compounds glow yellow because the
excited 3s electrons of sodium emit a photon when they fall from 3p to
3s; the wavelength of this photon corresponds to the D line at about
589.3 nm. Spin-orbit interactions involving the electron in the 3p
orbital split the D line into two, at 589.0 and 589.6 nm; hyperfine
structures involving both orbitals cause many more lines.
Isotopes of sodium
Twenty isotopes of sodium are known, but only 23Na is stable. 23Na is
created in the carbon-burning process in stars by fusing two carbon
atoms together; this requires temperatures above 600 megakelvins and a
star of at least three solar masses. Two radioactive , cosmogenic
isotopes are the byproduct of cosmic ray spallation : 22Na has a
half-life of 2.6 years and 24Na, a half-life of 15 hours; all other
isotopes have a half-life of less than one minute. Two nuclear
isomers have been discovered, the longer-lived one being 24mNa with a
half-life of around 20.2 milliseconds. Acute neutron radiation, as
from a nuclear criticality accident , converts some of the stable 23Na
in human blood to 24Na; the neutron radiation dosage of a victim can
be calculated by measuring the concentration of 24Na relative to 23Na.
Sodium atoms have 11 electrons, one more than the extremely stable
configuration of the noble gas neon . Because of this and its low
first ionization energy of 495.8 kJ/mol, the sodium atom is much more
likely to lose the last electron and acquire a positive charge than to
gain one and acquire a negative charge. This process requires so
little energy that sodium is readily oxidized by giving up its 11th
electron. In contrast, the second ionization energy is very high (4562
kJ/mol), because the 10th electron is closer to the nucleus than the
11th electron. As a result, sodium usually forms ionic compounds
involving the Na+ cation.
The most common oxidation state for sodium is +1. It is generally
less reactive than potassium and more reactive than lithium . Sodium
metal is highly reducing, with the standard reduction potential for
the Na+/Na couple being −2.71 volts, though potassium and lithium
have even more negative potentials.
SALTS AND OXIDES
See also: Category:
Sodium compounds . Structure of sodium
chloride , showing octahedral coordination around Na+ and Cl−
centres. This framework disintegrates when dissolved in water and
reassembles when the water evaporates.
Sodium compounds are of immense commercial importance, being
particularly central to industries producing glass , paper , soap ,
and textiles . The most important sodium compounds are table salt
(NaCl ), soda ash (Na2CO3 ), baking soda (NaHCO3 ), caustic soda
(NaOH), sodium nitrate (NaNO3 ), di- and tri-sodium phosphates, sodium
thiosulfate (Na2S2O3 ·5H2O), and borax (Na2B 4O7·10H2O). In
compounds, sodium is usually ionically bonded to water and anions, and
is viewed as a hard
Lewis acid . Two equivalent images of the
chemical structure of sodium stearate , a typical soap.
Most soaps are sodium salts of fatty acids .
Sodium soaps have a
higher melting temperature (and seem "harder") than potassium soaps.
Like all the alkali metals , sodium reacts exothermically with water,
and sufficiently large pieces melt to a sphere and may explode. The
reaction produces caustic soda (sodium hydroxide ) and flammable
hydrogen gas. When burned in air, it forms primarily sodium peroxide
with some sodium oxide .
Sodium tends to form water-soluble compounds, such as halides ,
sulfates , nitrates , carboxylates and carbonates . The main aqueous
species are the aquo complexes +, where n = 4–8; with n = 6
indicated from X-ray diffraction data and computer simulations.
Direct precipitation of sodium salts from aqueous solutions is rare
because sodium salts typically have a high affinity for water; an
exception is sodium bismuthate (NaBiO3). Because of this, sodium
salts are usually isolated as solids by evaporation or by
precipitation with an organic solvent, such as ethanol ; for example,
only 0.35 g/L of sodium chloride will dissolve in ethanol. Crown
ethers , like
15-crown-5 , may be used as a phase-transfer catalyst .
Sodium content in bulk may be determined by treating with a large
excess of uranyl zinc acetate ; the hexahydrate
(UO2)2ZnNa(CH3CO2)·6H2O precipitates and can be weighed .
rubidium do not interfere with this reaction, but potassium and
lithium do. Lower concentrations of sodium may be determined by
atomic absorption spectrophotometry or by potentiometry using
ELECTRIDES AND SODIDES
Like the other alkali metals, sodium dissolves in ammonia and some
amines to give deeply colored solutions; evaporation of these
solutions leaves a shiny film of metallic sodium. The solutions
contain the coordination complex (Na(NH3)6)+, with the positive charge
counterbalanced by electrons as anions ; cryptands permit the
isolation of these complexes as crystalline solids.
complexes with crown ethers, cryptands and other ligands. For
15-crown-5 has high affinity for sodium because the cavity
15-crown-5 is 1.7–2.2 Å, which is enough to fit sodium ion
(1.9 Å). Cryptands, like crown ethers and other ionophores , also
have a high affinity for the sodium ion; derivatives of the alkalide
Na− are obtainable by the addition of cryptands to solutions of
sodium in ammonia via disproportionation .
The structure of the complex of sodium (Na+, shown in yellow)
and the antibiotic monensin -A.
Many organosodium compounds have been prepared. Because of the high
polarity of the C-Na bonds, they behave like sources of carbanions
(salts with organic anions ). Some well known derivatives include
sodium cyclopentadienide (NaC5H5) and trityl sodium ((C6H5)3CNa).
Because of the large size and very low polarising power of the Na+
cation, it can stabilize large, aromatic, polarisable radical anions,
such as in sodium naphthalenide , Na+−, a strong reducing agent.
Sodium forms alloys with many metals, such as potassium, calcium ,
lead , and the group 11 and 12 elements.
Sodium and potassium form
NaK is 40–90% potassium and it is liquid at ambient
temperature . It is excellent thermal and electrical conductor.
Sodium-calcium alloys are by-products of electrolytic production of
sodium from binary salt mixture of NaCl-CaCl2 and ternary mixture
Calcium is only partially miscible with sodium. In
liquid state, sodium is completely miscible with lead. There are
several methods to make sodium-lead alloys. One is to melt them
together and another is to deposit sodium electrolycally on molten
lead cathodes. NaPb3, NaPb, Na9Pb4, Na5Pb2, and Na15Pb4 are some of
the known sodium-lead alloys.
Sodium also forms alloys with gold
(NaAu2) and silver (NaAg2). Group 12 metals (zinc , cadmium and
mercury ) are known to make alloys with sodium. NaZn13 and NaCd2 are
alloys of zinc and cadmium.
Sodium and mercury form NaHg, NaHg4,
NaHg2, Na3Hg2, and Na3Hg.
Because of its importance in human metabolism, salt has long been an
important commodity, as shown by the English word salary, which
derives from salarium, the wafers of salt sometimes given to Roman
soldiers along with their other wages. In medieval Europe, a compound
of sodium with the Latin name of sodanum was used as a headache
remedy. The name sodium is thought to originate from the Arabic suda,
meaning headache, as the headache-alleviating properties of sodium
carbonate or soda were well known in early times. Although sodium,
sometimes called soda, had long been recognized in compounds, the
metal itself was not isolated until 1807 by Sir
Humphry Davy through
the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide . In 1809, the German physicist
Ludwig Wilhelm Gilbert proposed the names Natronium for
Humphry Davy's "sodium" and Kalium for Davy's "potassium". The
chemical abbreviation for sodium was first published in 1814 by Jöns
Jakob Berzelius in his system of atomic symbols, and is an
abbreviation of the element's
New Latin name natrium, which refers to
the Egyptian natron , a natural mineral salt mainly consisting of
hydrated sodium carbonate.
Natron historically had several important
industrial and household uses, later eclipsed by other sodium
Sodium imparts an intense yellow color to flames. As early as 1860,
Kirchhoff and Bunsen noted the high sensitivity of a sodium flame
test, and stated in
Annalen der Physik und Chemie :
In a corner of our 60 m3 room farthest away from the apparatus, we
exploded 3 mg. of sodium chlorate with milk sugar while observing the
nonluminous flame before the slit. After a while, it glowed a bright
yellow and showed a strong sodium line that disappeared only after 10
minutes. From the weight of the sodium salt and the volume of air in
the room, we easily calculate that one part by weight of air could not
contain more than 1/20 millionth weight of sodium.
The Earth's crust contains 2.27% sodium, making it the seventh most
abundant element on
Earth and the fifth most abundant metal, behind
aluminium , iron , calcium , and magnesium and ahead of potassium.
Sodium's estimated oceanic abundance is 1.08×104 milligrams per
liter. Because of its high reactivity, it is never found as a pure
element. It is found in many different minerals, some very soluble,
such as halite and natron , others much less soluble, such as
amphibole and zeolite . The insolubility of certain sodium minerals
such as cryolite and feldspar arises from their polymeric anions,
which in the case of feldspar is a polysilicate.
In the interstellar medium , sodium is identified by the D spectral
line ; though it has a high vaporization temperature, its abundance in
Mercury\'s atmosphere enabled its detection by Potter and Morgan using
ground-based high resolution spectroscopy .
Sodium has been detected
in at least one comet ; astronomers watching
Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997
observed a sodium tail consisting of neutral atoms (not ions) and
extending to some 50 million kilometres behind the head.
Employed only in rather specialized applications, only about 100,000
tonnes of metallic sodium are produced annually. Metallic sodium was
first produced commercially in the late 19th century by carbothermal
reduction of sodium carbonate at 1100 °C, as the first step of the
Deville process for the production of aluminium: Na2CO3 + 2 C →
2 Na + 3 CO
The high demand of aluminium created the need for the production of
sodium. After the introduction of the
Hall–Héroult process for the
production of aluminium by electrolysing a molten salt bath ended the
need for large quantities of sodium. A related process based on the
reduction of sodium hydroxide was developed in 1886.
Sodium is now produced commercially through the electrolysis of
molten sodium chloride , based on a process patented in 1924. This
is done in a Downs cell in which the NaCl is mixed with calcium
chloride to lower the melting point below 700 °C. As calcium is less
electropositive than sodium, no calcium will be deposited at the
cathode. This method is less expensive than the previous Castner
process (the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide ).
The market for sodium is volatile due to the difficulty in its
storage and shipping; it must be stored under a dry inert gas
atmosphere or anhydrous mineral oil to prevent the formation of a
surface layer of sodium oxide or sodium superoxide .
Though metallic sodium has some important uses, the major
applications for sodium use compounds; millions of tons of sodium
chloride , hydroxide , and carbonate are produced annually. Sodium
chloride is extensively used for anti-icing and de-icing and as a
preservative; sodium bicarbonate is mainly used for cooking. Along
with potassium, many important medicines have sodium added to improve
their bioavailability ; though potassium is the better ion in most
cases, sodium is chosen for its lower price and atomic weight. Sodium
hydride is used as a base for various reactions (such as the aldol
reaction ) in organic chemistry, and as a reducing agent in inorganic
Metallic sodium is used mainly for the production of sodium
borohydride , sodium azide , indigo , and triphenylphosphine . A
once-common use was the making of tetraethyllead and titanium metal;
because of the move away from TEL and new titanium production methods,
the production of sodium declined after 1970.
Sodium is also used as
an alloying metal, an anti-scaling agent , and as a reducing agent
for metals when other materials are ineffective. Note the free element
is not used as a scaling agent, ions in the water are exchanged for
Sodium plasma ("vapor") lamps are often used for street
lighting in cities, shedding light that ranges from yellow-orange to
peach as the pressure increases. By itself or with potassium , sodium
is a desiccant ; it gives an intense blue coloration with benzophenone
when the desiccate is dry. In organic synthesis , sodium is used in
various reactions such as the
Birch reduction , and the sodium fusion
test is conducted to qualitatively analyse compounds.
with alcohol and gives alkoxides, and when sodium is dissolved in
ammonia solution, it can be used to reduce alkynes to trans-alkenes.
Lasers emitting light at the sodium D line are used to create
artificial laser guide stars that assist in the adaptive optics for
land-based visible light telescopes.
NaK phase diagram , showing the melting point of sodium as a
function of potassium concentration.
NaK with 77% potassium is
eutectic and has the lowest melting point of the
NaK alloys at −12.6
Liquid sodium is used as a heat transfer fluid in some fast reactors
because it has the high thermal conductivity and low neutron
absorption cross section required to achieve a high neutron flux in
the reactor. The high boiling point of sodium allows the reactor to
operate at ambient (normal) pressure, but the drawbacks include its
opacity, which hinders visual maintenance, and its explosive
properties. Radioactive sodium-24 may be produced by neutron
bombardment during operation, posing a slight radiation hazard; the
radioactivity stops within a few days after removal from the reactor.
If a reactor needs to be shut down frequently,
NaK is used; because
NaK is a liquid at room temperature, the coolant does not solidify in
the pipes. In this case, the pyrophoricity of potassium requires
extra precautions to prevent and detect leaks. Another heat transfer
application is poppet valves in high-performance internal combustion
engines; the valve stems are partially filled with sodium and work as
a heat pipe to cool the valves.
Sodium in biology
In humans, sodium is an essential mineral that regulates blood
volume, blood pressure, osmotic equilibrium and pH ; the minimum
physiological requirement for sodium is 500 milligrams per day.
Sodium chloride is the principal source of sodium in the diet, and is
used as seasoning and preservative in such commodities as pickled
preserves and jerky ; for Americans, most sodium chloride comes from
processed foods . Other sources of sodium are its natural occurrence
in food and such food additives as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium
nitrite , sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and
sodium benzoate . The US
Institute of Medicine set its Tolerable
Upper Intake Level for sodium at 2.3 grams per day, but the average
person in the United States consumes 3.4 grams per day. Studies have
found that lowering sodium intake by 2 g per day tends to lower
systolic blood pressure by about two to four mm Hg. It has been
estimated that such a decrease in sodium intake would lead to between
9 and 17% fewer cases of hypertension .
Hypertension causes 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide each year.
(Note that salt contains about 39.3% sodium —the rest being
chlorine and trace chemicals; thus, 2.3 g sodium is about 5.9 g, or
2.7 ml of salt—about half a
US teaspoon . ) The American Heart
Association recommends no more than 1.5 g of sodium per day.
One study found that people with or without hypertension who excreted
less than 3 grams of sodium per day in their urine (and therefore were
taking in less than 3 g/d) had a higher risk of death, stroke, or
heart attack than those excreting 4 to 5 grams per day. Levels of 7 g
per day or more in people with hypertension were associated with
higher mortality and cardiovascular events, but this was not found to
be true for people without hypertension . The US FDA states that
adults with hypertension and prehypertension should reduce daily
intake to 1.5 g.
The renin-angiotensin system regulates the amount of fluid and sodium
concentration in the body. Reduction of blood pressure and sodium
concentration in the kidney result in the production of renin , which
in turn produces aldosterone and angiotensin , retaining sodium in the
urine. When the concentration of sodium increases, the production of
renin decreases, and the sodium concentration returns to normal. The
sodium ion (Na+) is an important electrolyte in neuron function, and
in osmoregulation between cells and the extracellular fluid . This is
accomplished in all animals by
Na+/K+-ATPase , an active transporter
pumping ions against the gradient, and sodium/potassium channels.
Sodium is the most prevalent metallic ion in extracellular fluid.
Unusually low or high sodium levels in humans are recognized in
medicine as hyponatremia and hypernatremia . These conditions may be
caused by genetic factors, ageing, or prolonged vomiting or diarrhea.
C4 plants , sodium is a micronutrient that aids metabolism,
specifically in regeneration of phosphoenolpyruvate and synthesis of
chlorophyll . In others, it substitutes for potassium in several
roles, such as maintaining turgor pressure and aiding in the opening
and closing of stomata . Excess sodium in the soil can limit the
uptake of water by decreasing the water potential , which may result
in plant wilting; excess concentrations in the cytoplasm can lead to
enzyme inhibition, which in turn causes necrosis and chlorosis. In
response, some plants have developed mechanisms to limit sodium uptake
in the roots, to store it in cell vacuoles , and restrict salt
transport from roots to leaves; excess sodium may also be stored in
old plant tissue, limiting the damage to new growth.
adapted to be able to flourish in sodium rich environments.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
1 3 2 W
The fire diamond hazard sign for sodium metal
Sodium forms flammable hydrogen and caustic sodium hydroxide on
contact with water; ingestion and contact with moisture on skin, eyes
or mucous membranes can cause severe burns.
explodes in the presence of an oxidizer such as water. Fire
extinguishers based on water accelerate sodium fires; those based on
carbon dioxide and bromochlorodifluoromethane should not be used on
Metal fires are Class D , but not all Class D
extinguishers are workable with sodium. An effective extinguishing
agent for sodium fires is Met-L-X . Other effective agents include
Lith-X, which has graphite powder and an organophosphate flame
retardant , and dry sand.
Sodium fires are prevented in nuclear
reactors by isolating sodium from oxygen by surrounding sodium pipes
with inert gas. Pool-type sodium fires are prevented using different
design measures called catch pan systems. They collect leaking sodium
into a leak-recovery tank where it is isolated from oxygen.
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Darstellung der neuen Körper, welche ihre Basen ausmachen, und die
Natur der Alkalien überhaupt" (On some new phenomena of chemical
changes that are achieved by electricity; particularly the
decomposition of flame-resistant alkalis , the preparation of new
substances that constitute their bases, and the nature of alkalies
generally), Annalen der Physik, 31 (2) : 113–175 ; see footnote p.
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von Herrn Erman gebrauchten und von mehreren angenommenen Benennungen
Metalloid and Natron-Metalloid, bis zur völligen Aufklärung der
chemischen Natur dieser räthzelhaften Körper bleiben will. Oder
vielleicht findet man es noch zweckmässiger fürs Erste zwei Klassen
zu machen, Metalle und Metalloide, und in die letztere Kalium und
Natronium zu setzen. — Gilbert." (In our German nomenclature, I
would suggest the names Kalium and Natronium, if one would not rather
continue with the appellations Kali-metalloid and Natron-metalloid
which are used by Mr. Erman and accepted by several , until the
complete clarification of the chemical nature of these puzzling
substances. Or perhaps one finds it yet more advisable for the present
to create two classes, metals and metalloids, and to place Kalium and
Natronium in the latter — Gilbert.)
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