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Science Innovation Centre · 011 · Sodium

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Chemical element, symbol: Na, atomic number: 11 and atomic weight 22,9898. It’s a soft metal, reactive and with a low melting point, with a relative density of 0,97 at 20°C (68°F). From the commercial point of view, sodium is the most important of all the alkaline metals.

Sodium reacts quickly with water, and also with snow and ice, to produce sodium hydroxide and hydrogen. When it’s exposed to air, metallic sodium recently cut loses its silvery appearance and acquires an opaque grey colour due to the formation of a sodium oxide coating.

Sodium in its metallic form is very important in making esters and in the manufacture of organic compounds. Sodium is also a component of sodium chloride (NaCl) a very important compound found everywhere in the living environment. Other uses are: to improve the structure of certain alloys; in soap, in combination with fatty acids, in sodium vapour lamps, to descale metals, to purify molten metals.

Solid sodium carbonate is needed to make glass.