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:
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:
Swelling in hands and/or feet
Feeling light headed
Muscle twitching or fatigue
Uneven heart rate
I am a UK based doctor with over 8 years experience in both Medicine and Surgery alongside a background in medical education, teaching from school level up to postgraduate level. I provide medical consultancy to various online services internationally, of which two I am co-founder.
From 2008 to 2010 I created a dual curriculum for a private sixth form college, aimed at 16 to 18 year olds. This included a range of subjects and training for the university application process. In recent years I have continued to assist both UK and US students in their medical school applications alongside my usual clinical work.
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From my time as a teacher at pre-University level and working as a doctor I have accrued many hours of teaching aimed at a variety of levels of understanding. Most importantly, I have over 5 years experience in translating complex medical jargon into easy to understand information for patients and their relatives throughout a number of differing specialties.
Cardiff Medical School 2006 – 2011 MB ChB
Teacher at Cardiff Sixth Form College (2008 -2011)
Hospital Doctor / Senior House Officer for the NHS in multiple hospitals around England and Wales, UK. (2011 – present)