Known as a highly reactive, silvery-white and soft metal, sodium goes by the atomic number 11 and the symbol Na. This metallic element belongs to a group of alkali metals, which also includes rubidium (Rb), potassium (K) and lithium (Li). This is a very important element because it plays a very huge role in the life of plant species and animals. Aside from these things, it is nice to know other relevant details about this highly essential element such as who discovered sodium.
The Discovery of Sodium
Who discovered sodium? In 1806, British chemist Humphry Davy discovered elemental sodium after he passed electric current through a molten form of sodium hydroxide. Although it does not appear on Earth naturally, this element reacts violently with water oxidizes right away in air. It can only be stored with the aid of an inert medium. In addition to his wonderful contributions to the discoveries of various alkaline earth metals, Davy also contributed a lot in the discoveries of iodine as well as chlorine.
Additional Facts and Other Important Details
Under normal conditions, it is possible to cut sodium metal with a knife. When exposed to air, the luster of sodium will tarnish easily. Compared to potassium, sodium is less dense. In terms of chemical properties, it is more reactive than lithium and less reactive than potassium. Because of its numerous pleasant qualities, many different industries find it very useful, particularly the textile, soap as well as petroleum industries. Likewise, the paper, metal, glass and chemical industries find it a highly significant part of the respective businesses.
When combined with other elements, sodium can be very useful. These include borax, sodium thiosulfate and tri-sodium phosphates. The same thing also goes for sodium nitrate, caustic soda as well as baking soda. When added to a flame, this element can further enhance the flame’s color into a bright yellowish color. The symbol ‘Na’ for sodium was used first by Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius as part of one of his published works.
The crust of the Earth is comprised of more or less 2.6 percent of sodium. Overall, it is the sixth most abundant chemical element present. It can be found in various kinds of minerals including amphibole, halite and salt. In addition, it can also be found in zeolite, soda niter and cryolite. Today, it has numerous applications in modern society. It is used to purify and de-scale metals. Likewise, it is added to alloys to enhance their structure. In soaps, it is combined with fatty acids to create higher melting and harder soap variants.