SODIUM - All You Need To Know About This Element (Atom of Sodium)

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Sodium - All You Need To Know About This Element

Sodium is a chemical element with symbol Na (from Latin natrium) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal. Sodium is an alkali metal, being in group 1 of the periodic table, because it has a single electron in its outer shell that it readily donates, creating a positively charged atom—the Na+ cation. Its only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, but must be prepared from compounds. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite and rock salt. Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble: sodium ions have been leached by the action of water from the Earth's minerals over eons, and thus sodium and chlorine are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the oceans.

Sodium was first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1807 by the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide. Among many other useful sodium compounds, sodium hydroxide (lye) is used in soap manufacture, and sodium chloride (edible salt) is a de-icing agent and a nutrient for animals including humans.

Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants. Sodium ions are the major cation in the extracellular fluid (E C F) and as such are the major contributor to the E C F osmotic pressure and E C F compartment volume. Loss of water from the E C F compartment increases the sodium concentration, a condition called hypernatremia. Isotonic loss of water and sodium from the E C F compartment decreases the size of that compartment in a condition called E C F hypovolemia.

By means of the sodium-potassium pump, living human cells pump three sodium ions out of the cell in exchange for two potassium ions pumped in; comparing ion concentrations across the cell membrane, inside to outside, potassium measures about 40:1, and sodium, about 1:10. In nerve cells, the electrical charge across the cell membrane enables transmission of the nerve impulse—an action potential—when the charge is dissipated; sodium plays a key role in that activity.
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earth crust, mineralization

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