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Elements for Kids

Sodium

The element sodium

  • Symbol: Na
  • Atomic Number: 11
  • Atomic Weight: 22.99
  • Classification: Alkali metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 0.968 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 97.72°C, 207.9°F
  • Boiling Point: 883°C, 1621°F
  • Discovered by: Sir Humphry Davy in 1807


Sodium is an alkali metal located in the first group or column of the periodic table. The sodium atom has 11 electrons and 11 protons with one valence electron in the outer shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Sodium in its pure form is very reactive. It is a very soft metal that can be easily cut with a knife. It is silvery-white in color and burns with a yellow flame.

Sodium will float on water, but it will also react violently when coming into contact with water. When sodium reacts with water it produces sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas.

Sodium is most famous for its many useful compounds such as table salt (NaCl), sodium nitrate (Na2CO3), and baking soda (NaHCO3). Many of the compounds that sodium forms are water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water.

Where is sodium found on Earth?

Sodium is the sixth most abundant element on Earth. It is never found in its pure form because it is so reactive. It is only found in compounds such as sodium chloride (NaCL) or table salt. Sodium chloride is found in ocean water (salt water), salt lakes, and underground deposits. Pure sodium can be recovered from sodium chloride through electrolysis.

How is sodium used today?

Sodium is primarily used in the form of compounds with other elements.

The average person uses sodium every day in the form of table salt in their food. Table salt is the compound sodium chloride (NaCl). Table salt is needed for animals to survive, but most people use it for adding flavor to their food.

Another popular use of sodium is in baking soda which is the chemical compound sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in cooking foods like pancakes, cakes, and breads.

A lot of soaps are forms of sodium salts. Sodium hydroxide is a key ingredient when making soaps.

Other applications include de-icing, medicine, organic chemistry, street lights, and cooling nuclear reactors.

How was it discovered?

Sodium was discovered by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy in 1807. He isolated sodium by applying electrolysis to caustic soda.

Where did sodium get its name?

Sodium gets its name from the English word soda. This is because Sir Humphry Davy used caustic soda when isolating the element. The symbol Na comes from the Latin word natrium.

Isotopes

Only one of the 20 known isotopes of sodium is stable, sodium-23.

Interesting Facts about Sodium

More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table

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