Sodium is a vital element in our body. Hence, the daily dosage of sodium needed for a healthy body is 2,400 milligrams. Similarly, people take up sodium in their diet in different forms, and the main sodium source is salt or sodium chloride. Sodium and salt are interchangeably used by people because ultimately, it has the same purpose inside the body. However, both are completely different.
What is Sodium?
Sodium is a chemical element having the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is in group 1 of the periodic table of elements. Hence we can categorize it as an alkali metal (because all the members in group 1 are named as alkali metals). It has one unpaired electron as its valence electron, and it is in the outermost s orbital. Therefore sodium atoms tend to donate this electron forming Na+ cation and becomes stable. Subsequently, this leads to the formation of ionic compounds. We name them as sodium salts.
There is only one stable isotope for sodium; Na-23. Hence, we can take 23 as the standard atomic weight of sodium. After all, this metal appears as a silvery-white metal, and it is very soft that, we can simply cut it using a knife. However, this metal is highly reactive. Moreover, as soon as it cuts, the silvery colour disappears due to the oxide layer formation.
The density of sodium is lower than that of water, so it floats in water, while vigorously reacting. This reaction is highly exothermic and thus, explosive. When sodium burns in the air, it gives a brilliant yellow flame. Sodium is an essential element in living systems to maintain osmotic balance, for nerve impulse transmission etc. Sodium is also useful in synthesizing various other chemicals, organic compounds and for sodium vapour lamps.
What is Sodium Chloride?
Sodium chloride is a chemical compound having the chemical formula NaCl. We can name it as a sodium salt because it contains sodium cation. In common terms, we name it simply as “salt”. It is an ionic compound consisting of sodium cations and chloride anions. Moreover, this compound is responsible for the salty taste of seawater.
Sodium chloride appears as colourless cubic crystals. The molar mass of this compound is 58.44 g/mol. When considering the cubic structure of this ionic compound, it has each of its sodium cation surrounded by six chloride anions and vice versa. Therefore, its crystal structure is face-centered cubic structure. There are electrostatic forces between the opposite ions.
Water is a highly polar solvent that can dissolve sodium chloride in it. There, the compound dissociates into sodium and chloride ions. Thereafter, these ions get surrounded by polar water molecules. Moreover, the sodium chloride aqueous solution can conduct electricity because there are cations and anions that can conduct electricity.
What is the Difference Between Sodium and Sodium Chloride?
Sodium is a chemical element having the symbol Na and atomic number 11 while sodium chloride is a chemical compound having the chemical formula NaCl. Hence, the key difference between sodium and sodium chloride is that sodium is a chemical element whereas sodium chloride is a compound containing both sodium and chlorine chemical elements.
Furthermore, sodium appears as a silvery-white metal while sodium chloride appears as colourless cubic crystals. As another important difference between sodium and sodium chloride, sodium is highly reactive when exposed to normal air whereas sodium chloride is unreactive when exposed to air. Apart from that, another important difference between sodium and sodium chloride is that sodium has an explosive reaction with water while sodium chloride dissolves in water without any explosive characteristics.
Summary – Sodium vs Sodium Chloride
Sodium chloride is a salt of sodium. Therefore, the key difference between sodium and sodium chloride is that sodium is a chemical element whereas sodium chloride is a compound containing both sodium and chlorine chemical elements.