Salt Facts: Tara gets her Science on

Sodium is not just what comes out of the salt shaker! For those of you who hated Chemistry in high school, the white stuff next to the pepper on every table in America is NaCl. That’s Sodium Chloride. Get it? Na = Sodium, Cl = Chlorine? put them together and what does that spell? S-A-L-T-Y!

oh, no! you're giving me chemistry nightmare flashbacks!

Remember the Periodic table? Each element, including our friends Sodium and Chlorine, has a different atomic mass. One atom of Sodium weighs in at about 23 atomic mass units (do you really think they’d weigh atoms in pounds or something?) and Chlorine is 35.5. When we put one of each together to form a molecule of table salt, it’s a total of 58.8 atomic mass units.

So the salt you put on your food is about 40% Sodium and 60% Chlorine by weight. Don’t get scared about the Chlorine for pete’s sake, it’s not in the same form as the stuff they put in swimming pools, it’s an Chloride ion.  Do you really want me to explain what that means? I didn’t think so.

OK, no more science! The doctor told you to avoid SODIUM! Now you know the difference between sodium and salt. If you are thinking “she just told me salt is only 40% sodium, that doesn’t sound so bad!” then you are wrong because when you add say 1/2 tsp of salt to a recipe (sounds innocent enough,) it weighs about 3 grams which is 3,000mg. 40% of that is about 1,200mg of Sodium! YOWZA! Better not eat the whole recipe in a day!

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