Sodium Chloride | NaCl | Uses, Benefits, and Safety Facts

Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride (NaCl), commonly known as salt, is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth and an essential nutrient for many animals and plants. It is naturally found in seawater and in underground rock formations.

Uses & Benefits

Sodium chloride is essential to maintain the electrolyte balance of fluids in a person’s body. If levels of electrolytes become too low or too high, a person can become dehydrated or over hydrated, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Sodium chloride has been used to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years. As a preservative, salt helps to prevent spoilage and helps to keep foods like ready-to-eat meats and cheeses safe to eat. Salt is also used in fermenting processes for foods like sauerkraut, pickles and kefir.

Sodium chloride also has many other uses beyond seasoning and preserving foods. Hospitals use an intravenous sodium chloride solution to supply water and salt to patients to alleviate dehydration. Icy sidewalks and roadways are often de-iced by rock salt, the same type of salt that is used on your dinner table, before it is ground down to finer crystals. Large quantities of sodium chloride are also used in industrial manufacturing settings to help make a range of products, from plastic, paper, rubber and glass, to chlorine, polyester, household bleach, soaps, detergents and dyes.

Safety Information

Salt is regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) ingredient. A “GRAS” substance is one that has a long history of safe, common use in foods, or that is determined to be safe, for the intended use, based on proven science. These substances need not be approved by FDA prior to being used.

FDA does require that food labels include information on a product’s sodium content and has implemented several labeling requirements related to sodium content of foods. In addition, U.S. Dietary Guidelines reported from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that most people consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or about a teaspoon of table salt. FDA notes that consuming too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others, according to FDA.

Answering Questions

What is sodium chloride?

Sodium chloride is more commonly known as salt. It is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth and an essential nutrient for many animals and plants, including people.

What are sodium chloride uses?

Sodium chloride has been used to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years. Sodium chloride has other uses beyond seasoning and preserving foods. For example, hospitals use an intravenous sodium chloride solution to supply water and salt to patients to alleviate dehydration. Sodium chloride is also used in industrial manufacturing setting to produce other products like plastic and paper.

Is sodium chloride safe?

Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) ingredient. A “GRAS” substance is one that has a long history of safe, common use in foods, or that is determined to be safe, for the intended use, based on proven science. FDA notes that consuming too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension.