Sodium Chloride, The World’s Table Salt

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From sweeteners to leavening agents, chemicals have played an essential role in the food industry. The upcoming blog posts will address the role of chemicals as preservatives.

Preservation is defined as a method used to maintain an existing condition or to prevent damage that can be brought about by chemical (oxidation), physical (temperature, light) and biological (microorganisms) factors. Fundamentally, the preservation of food delays the decayof food and extends its lifetime. Typically, preservation is applied during the packaging step before the food is transported to the different destinations. The chemical of interest for today is sodium chloride.

Sodium chloride, which is commonly known as table salt in the modern day context, played a pivotal role during the early days of civilisation. It served as one of the earliest chemical preservatives that can effectively elongate the lifespan of food thereby ensuring the delivery of food to the different locations in their desired condition. Preservation of food is possible with sodium chloride because salt acts as a water absorber or a drying agent. It absorbs moisture from food via osmosis thereby ensuring an environment which is too dry to support microbial bacterial growth.

Salt is manufactured from rock salt and seawater as well as other natural and artificial brines. Majority of the artificial brines are extracted by pumping water into the underground salt beds. Seawater is usually collected and evaporated. Different salt water will precipitate at various times, forming layers at the base of the evaporating locality. In general, the order of deposition is calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, potassium magnesium chloride and magnesium chloride.

Salt consumption_Tradeasia

The sodium chloride market is predicted to be stable as it is easily available. Sodium Chloride is used internationally. The primary salt importers are China, Japan and other Asian countries, with the imported salt used typically in the chemical industries of these countries. China alone accounts for more than a quarter for the sodium chloride market.The major exporters are countries with climatic and geographical conditions that allow for reliable economical production of solar salt—Australia, India and Mexico—as well as Chile with its low-cost production of lake salt.

Besides acting as a preservative, unsurprisingly, sodium chloride also behaves as a flavour enhancer by increasing the saltiness in food. This gives sodium chloride its name table salt.


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