What is Sodium Chloride?
Sodium chloride is salt. It’s also known as NaCl, as it is made when sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) combined together in the formation of white, crystalline cubes. It’s responsible for the salinity of seawater. Sodium chloride, or salt as it is commonly called, is required by our bodies for absorbing and transporting nutrients, maintaining blood pressure, and other bodily functions. Having the wrong amount of salt in our body can be harmful to our health however, whether you have too much or too little. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that people keep their sodium consumption at 2,300 milligrams or less per day, the equivalent of about a teaspoon of table salt. Too much salt in the body can contribute to hypertension or high blood pressure. If you have too little sodium in the body it must be replaced in order to allow normal renal function, intracellular osmolarity, muscle contraction, and nerve conduction. Difference Between Sodium and Salt While we tend to use the words “sodium” and “salt” interchangeably, they are actually different. Sodium itself is a nutrient and mineral that occurs naturally. Sodium is found in unprocessed vegetables, beans, and fruits; as well as in baking soda. Salt is a combination of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Nearly 90% of the sodium we consume comes from salt added to foods. What is Sodium Chloride Used For? The most common use of sodium chloride is to flavor food. Some people sprinkle it on everything for seasoning. It can be used to preserve foods or to create a brine for marinating. Sodium chloride is effective in cleaning pots and pans, removing grease, preventing mold, and melting or preventing ice on roads. In a medical capacity, sodium chloride has a variety of uses. It may be used with water to create a saline solution. Saline solutions are used in IV drips to treat dehydration or improve the body’s electrolyte imbalance, to flush an IV or catheter after receiving an injected medication, or to clean wounds. Saline can be used to treat eye dryness or redness, reduce post nasal drip and keep the nasal cavity moist, and to help create mucus so it can be coughed out. If you need sodium chloride for injection to dilute or dissolve drugs, look for single-dose containers that contain no bacteriostat, antimicrobrial agents or added buffers. Sodium Chloride Solubility Sodium is soluble in: Water Glycerol Formamide Ammonia Formic acid Methanol Propylene glycol Sodium Chloride Side Effects If your doctor prescribes sodium chloride, the most common side effect will be a salty taste. But some people may experience an allergic reaction including hives, swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat, or difficulty breathing. If this occurs, contact a doctor or seek medication treatment immediately, particularly if side effects include: Trouble breathing Chest pain Swelling in hands and/or feet Feeling light headed Faint Muscle twitching or fatigue Confusion Uneven heart rate Increased/decreased urination Extreme thirst