Definition of Sodium: Sodium is an atom that has 11 protons and 12 neutrons in its nucleus and 11 electrons circling around its nucleus. Like other light atoms such as carbon, sodium forms inside of stars that are beginning to run out of fuel, and it scatters all over space when that star explodes in a supernova.
Sodium Facts & General Uses Sodium Clarification: Element Classification: Alkali Metal Discoverer: Sir Humphrey Davy Discovery Date: 1807 (England) Appearance: soft, silvery-white metal Uses: Sodium chloride is important for animal nutrition. Sodium compounds are used in the glass, paper, chemical, petroleum, and metal industries. It is used in the reduction of organic esters and preparation of organic compounds. Sodium metal used to improve the structure of some alloys, to descale metal, and to purify molten metals.
Sodium Sources Sources: Sodium is relatively abundant in the sun and other stars. The D lines of sodium are prominent in the solar spectrum. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element on earth. Sodium is the most abundant of the alkali metals. Salt is the most common sodium compound. Sodium is not found free in nature.
Use 1 Sodium is used to descale metals. This gives the metal a smooth surface. Sodium metal is also used to refine metals (such as zirconium and potassium) from their compounds. Molten (liquid) sodium is used as a coolant in many nuclear reactors. It can be used on its own or can be combined with potassium.
Use 2 Sodium is added to fatty acids to make sodium salts. These are much harder (with higher melting points) than potassium soap. The sodium fusion test uses the high reactivity, high solubility and low melting point to determine the presence of halogens, nitrogen and sulfur in a sample. Sodium can be used as a reducing agent- changing some organic molecules into new forms.
Use 3 Sodium vapor lamps (often used in street lights) are a very efficient way of producing light from electricity. These lamps give off a very distinctive yellow-orange color. Sodium chloride is an important heat transfer material. Sodium can be used alone or with potassium to dry solvents (called a desiccant).