What Is the Difference Between Table Salt and Other Salts?

table salt and other saltsNice try, but “s” is not the correct answer. There is a difference and there is no difference between them. Both are correct. There is a difference and there is not a difference between table salt and other salts.

Difference Between Table Salt and Salts

Table salt, chemical name sodium chloride, is written NaCl. Yes, we call it salt and we sprinkle it on our food. It enhances flavor to the palate. But to the chemist, it is merely one of thousands – millions of salts. So what is a salt to a chemist?

It is one of two products (the other ordinarily water) of an acid-base reaction. Consider an example.

An Example of a Salt Formation

Calcium hydroxide plus sulfuric acid produces calcium sulfate plus water.

Ca(OH)₂ + H₂SO₄ → CaSO₄ + 2 H₂O

The above reaction features calcium as Ca (+2), hydrogen as H (+1), oxygen as O (⁻2), and sulfate as SO₄ (⁻2). The number of atoms (as well as the charge) balance.
Difference between table salt and other salts
Dutch Rococo Plasterwork 1735


The above reaction is of interest. Slaked lime plus sulfuric acid yields calcium sulfate (Plaster of Paris) plus water. The salt is the Plaster of Paris. Don’t sprinkle it on your food. Most salts are not well-suited for human consumption.

Back to Table Salt

So if table salt is also a salt according to the chemists’ use of the word, does it undergo such a reaction pattern? Yes, it does. The reaction is simply written

NaOH + HCl → NaCl + H₂O

An Added Tidbit

Interestingly, the salt produced in reactions such as the above is more nearly neutral than either the acid or the base used to produce it. In fact, table salt is pretty well neutral. Don’t look for salt to produce heartburn when you consume it. Simply enjoy the flavor enhancement. Unless health issues, that is, dictate you avoid it.

References: ← Back to Food-Health
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