Sodium is one of the most widely used elements.
It is not readily available in the molecular form or elemental form.
But it is available in plenty of various compounds.
It is widely used in households, industries, and also research labs
As an ion Na+, it is present in all animals and plants.
Various compounds of sodium and their uses in daily life
1. As Sodium salts
Sodium salts are widely used in everyday life. Most of the drugs we use for disease treatment are some form of sodium salt.
Example: An antibiotic cefixime is available as its sodium salt i.e., cefixime sodium.
This drug is converted into a salt of sodium in the pharmaceutical industry to enhance its solubility and stability in storage.
Oral rehydration salts
ORS therapy is recommended by WHO to treat dehydration. One feels weak due to acute diarrhea, excess sweating, etc.
This ORS salt consists of sodium chloride along with other ingredients.
When taken with water, this ORS therapy limits the chances of death, especially in children and old age people.
Taste In Food
Sodium chloride is the common chemical used as table salt.
It is used in everyday life for cooking food. It imparts a salty taste that cannot be substituted by any other substance.
It is widely sold in powder form and also as coarse granules. No meal can be tasty without its inclusion in it.
Also, its addition to food gives strength to the body as it is an essential ion. It plays a vital role in nerve conduction, cell membrane transport, retaining body water, etc. Hence, if you limit your salt intake, suddenly, you could feel weaker.
However, taking it in high quantities is harmful to those with high blood pressure.
2. In poison treatment
Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCo3) is another compound containing sodium. It is widely used in different ways.
Poison treatment in the Medical emergency
Sodium bicarbonate is used in case of poisoning due to salicylates and other acidic drugs.
It helps to eliminate acidic poisons from the body through urine.
Here, sodium bicarbonate is given in bolus by the intravenous route.
This alkalinizes the blood and retains an acidic drug in the blood compartment and expels it into the urine.
As an antacid
Sodium bicarbonate is alkaline. It is used as a systemic antacid to relieve gastric acidity.
It is a good home remedy for stomach aches and acidity.
A tablespoon full of it is mixed in warm water along with sugar. This solution, when consumed, gives immediate relief from acidity.
Hence this has been a time-tested household remedy for acidity.
It liberates carbon-dioxide gas in the stomach and helps in the expulsion of gases from the stomach.
So bloated stomach is relieved.
Besides, its alkaline nature reacts with the excess hydrochloric acid in the stomach and neutralizes it to give relief from acidic pain.
For baking food: It is also called “baking soda” in regular life.
It is added to impart fluffiness to the food prepared. It is also part of a few anti-acid preparations used in the treatment of gastric acidity.
3. For chemical analysis:
Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is a chemical widely used as an alkaline reagent in labs. It is a standard alkali and is used to determine the strength of acids used for acid-base titrations (neutralization titrations).
4. In soap making: Sodium hydroxide is used in making soaps. It helps in the saponification of fatty acids during the process.
It is also called caustic soda due to its ability to induce skin burns when the solid crystal is held in hand. It is also highly hygroscopic. This means it absorbs water from the atmosphere. When placed on the hands, it absorbs moisture from the skin, causing irritation and burns.
5. Washing soda:
Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3), in common terms, is called washing soda. This sodium carbonate is mildly basic and helps to generate foam. As the name indicates, this was used for washing clothes by washermen in the past. It is still used for washing soda in some regions.
6. Food preservation:
In making wine: Sodium Bisulfite (NaHso3) is a sodium compound used as a food additive, especially in the making of wines. This Sodium bisulfite releases sulfur dioxide gas which kills yeast and other bacteria in wines. It is also used in pipelines and other metallic surfaces made of iron to prevent corrosion.
7. Cyanide poisoning treatment: Cyanide poisoning is treated by using an antidote with a combination of vitamin-B12, sodium nitrite, and sodium thiosulfate.
8. Sodium metabisulphite (NaS2O5): This is used as a food additive to prevent oxidation and also as a preservative.
9. Pest control in agriculture: Sodium azide is used in pest control in farming. This sodium azide is also used in automobile crash airbags.
Besides this, sodium is made part of many chemical reagents in labs. It is used in the detection of chlorine in organic compounds (lassaigns test).
It is also used by plants after taking it up from soil and water. This sodium in plants helps in water movement and maintains osmotic pressure. In short, it helps in the maintenance of water balance within the plant body.
Due to its direct relationship with water, it is advised to consume less sodium-related substances in those who suffer from hypertension. This sodium helps retain water in the body and raises blood volume. So this raised volume aids high blood pressure. To minimize the blood pressure, this sodium is expelled by drugs to lower water content and thereby blood volume.