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Wikipedia article: Sodium
· Many salts of sodium are highly soluble in water and are thus present in significant quantities in the Earth's bodies of water, most abundantly in the oceans as sodium chloride.
· Many sodium compounds are useful, such as sodium hydroxide (lye) for soapmaking, and sodium chloride for use as a deicing agent and a nutrient.
· In animals, sodium ions are used against potassium ions to build up charges on cell membranes, allowing transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is dissipated; it is therefore classified as a dietary inorganic macro-mineral.
· When sodium or its compounds are introduced into a flame, they turn it yellow, because the heat excites sodium atoms and moves their valence electrons from the 3s orbital to the 3p orbital; as those electrons fall back to 3s, they emit a photon with a wavelength corresponding to the D line at 589.3 nm.
· Sodium metal is highly reducing, with the reduction of sodium ions requiring −2.71 volts; other alkali metals have more negative potentials.
· Like all the alkali metals, it reacts exothermically with water, to the point that sufficiently large pieces melt to a sphere and then explode; this reaction produces caustic sodium hydroxide and flammable hydrogen gas.
· The insolubility of certain sodium minerals such as cryolite and feldspar arises from their polymeric anions, which in the case of feldspar is a polysilicate.
· The sodium compounds that are the most important are common salt (NaCl), soda ash (Na2CO3), baking soda (NaHCO3), caustic soda (NaOH), sodium nitrate (NaNO3), di- and tri-sodium phosphates, sodium thiosulfate (Na2S2O3·5H2O), and borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O).
· Like the other alkali metals, metallic sodium dissolves in ammonia and some other amines to give deeply coloured solutions.
· The name sodium is thought to originate from the Arabic suda, meaning headache, as the headache-alleviating properties of sodium carbonate or soda were well known in early times.
· The chemical abbreviation for sodium was first published by Jцns Jakob Berzelius in his system of atomic symbols, and is a contraction of the element's new Latin name natrium, which refers to the Egyptian natron, a natural mineral salt primarily made of hydrated sodium carbonate.
· Although sodium, sometimes called soda, had long been recognised in compounds, the metal itself was not isolated until 1807 by Humphry Davy through the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide.
· Metallic sodium was first produced commercially in 1855 by carbothermal reduction of sodium carbonate at 1100 °C, in what is known as the Deville process: A related process based on the reduction of sodium hydroxide was developed in 1886.
· Previous uses were for the making of tetraethyllead and titanium metal; because applications for these chemicals were discontinued, the production of sodium declined after 1970.
· Heat transfer Liquid sodium is used as a heat transfer fluid in some fast reactors, due to its high thermal conductivity and low neutron absorption cross section, which is required to achieve a high neutron flux; the high boiling point allows the reactor to operate at ambient pressure.
· Sodium soaps are harder (higher melting) soaps than potassium soaps.
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