Sodium Chloride is another name for salt. In solid form, it is a white crystalline powder and can be used a table salt for flavouring and preserving food or as common salt which has a number of industrial uses.
Sodium Chloride can be extracted from seawater via a process known as desalination. In various areas of the world, huge desalination plants produce thousands of tons of salt per year. Sodium Chloride can also be mined as rock salt and can be extracted from brine wells and salt lakes.
Amongst the industrial uses for Sodium Chloride are industries such as textiles and dyeing where Sodium Chloride plays a vital role in setting the dyes. Additionally, Sodium Chloride is used in a wide range of manufacturing processes from toothpaste and washing powder to paper milling.
As a preservative, Sodium Chloride has been used to 'salt' food for many centuries. Traditionally used to preserve fish and meat long before refrigeration was commonplace as today, salting highly perishable foodstuffs enabled them to remain edible after many months as the highly salty environment means that bacteria cannot survive in foodstuffs which have been 'cured' through salting.
Salt is also used to preserve food in liquid form known as 'brine' which is a mixture of salt and water. Humans are able to ingest quantities of salt in food without adverse effects, although it has been proven that a diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure. Persons who suffer from high blood pressure are now able to use salt substitutes or low salt products which have a similar taste to salt but without the potential hazards.
Rock Salt is the name given to Sodium Chloride which is used to clear roads and prevent icing in winter. This happens because the freezing point of Rock Salt is lower than that of water, so by putting Rock Salt on an icy road will cause the ice to melt. Rock Salt is extensively used in cold climates around the world and many thousands of tons of Rock Salt are purchased each year by government bodies to keep roads and runways safe and clear of ice.
Amongst the world's leading producers of Sodium Chloride are China, the USA, Germany, India and Canada. Over 270 million metric tons of salt were produced worldwide in 2010 and Sodium Chloride remains an extremely important commodity in the world..
It is important that Sodium Chloride is stored in an airtight container. Salt readily dissolves in water and exposure to the atmosphere will cause salt to absorb any moisture which might be present.
The chemical formula for Sodium Chloride is NaCl and it is also known as Halite. It forms isometric crystals which are very often white or colourless but which can also appear as dark blue or purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or grey, depending on the amount and type of impurities present. Sodium Chlorite as Halite is frequently found with other deposit minerals such as borates and sulphates.