Sodium Chloride & Sodium Nitrate

Written by mike charmaine
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Sodium Chloride & Sodium Nitrate
Sodium nitrate is an odourless, colourless crystalline compound (Salt image by lefebvre_jonathan from Fotolia.com)

Sodium nitrate is an odourless, colourless crystalline compound that closely resembles potassium nitrate in chemical properties and appearance. Sodium chloride, also referred to as common table salt, is an important component of human health. When consumed in minimal quantities, sodium chloride provides the body with electrolytes and helps in relaxing the muscles.

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Sodium Nitrate Properties

Sodium nitrate, also referred to as soda nitre or Chile saltpetre, is a water-soluble, naturally occurring salt that is mainly used in fireworks and fertilisers. Sodium nitrate in natural form is the mineral nitratine. Sodium nitrate is deliquescent in nature, which means that it rapidly absorbs moisture from air. The melting point of sodium nitrate is 308 degrees Celsius. Similar to most of the other nitrates, sodium nitrate when heated above 500 degrees Celsius decomposes explosively. At room temperature, it dissolves in water and it is also soluble in most alcohols and ammonia. Sodium nitrate, when dissolved in water, results in a neutral solution with a pH value of 7.

Sodium Chloride Properties

Sodium chloride occurs naturally in cubic crystals of rock salt, which is colourless in the purest form but is often tinged brown, yellow or blue depending on the impurities in it. Sodium chloride is soluble in water and very slightly soluble in ethanol. The relative density of sodium chloride is 2.17, and its melting point is 801 degrees Celsius.

Sodium Nitrate Fertilizer

Sodium nitrate is extensively used as a fertiliser in agriculture. Because it is low in cost, high in nitrogen content (16 per cent by mass) and has an excellent solubility in water, it is an inexpensive source of nitrogen. Sodium nitrate also finds its place in fireworks.

Industrial Applications of Sodium Nitrate

The other important application of sodium nitrate is in the processed meat industry. It is used as a preservative in the processed meat industry and is mainly used to retain the pink colour of the processed meats such as the ham and hot dogs. In the 1800s and early 1900s, it was also used in the manufacturing of gunpowder as an alternative to the potassium nitrate. However, with the advent of smokeless powders, it has lost its place in the gunpowder manufacturing.

Sodium Chloride Uses

Sodium chloride has had a lot of importance since the ancient times. It has been used in a number of ways to preserve and flavour the food. Salt plays the role of a preservative in foods such as margarine, dairy products and meats because it aids in the retardation of the growth of microorganisms. Industrially, sodium hydroxide and chlorine are electrolytically produced from strong alkaline solution (called brine). Chemicals produced from sodium chloride reactions are applied in metallurgy, photography and curing of hides.

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