Why is table salt called table salt? In a nutshell, salt is rock salt. Rock salt is a form of naturally occurring silica and is used to prepare food in many parts of the world. The term “table salt” refers to all salts that are used for cooking.
Is salt a complex compound or does it come in a variety of forms? Yes, in some ways salt is more complex than water. Table salt is simply another name for sodium chloride, a substance of sodium and chloride. Its formula is Na+ (where the “s” is replaced by an “l”), C (where the “c” is replaced by an “n” and also the “n” is replaced by an “s” sound) and H20 (where the “s” is replaced by an “h” sound).
In order to understand what sodium chloride actually is, we must know how compounds in nature are created. When a material is in the form of a crystal, for example, there is usually a combination of matter that has been heated to a particular temperature and “crystallized”, at which point it becomes a solid. Crystals have masses and are symmetrical, but a crystal is not salt. If you put a rock on top of a layer of snow, or any other substance with a lower freezing temperature, you would find that the two materials would “lock together” to form a Homogenous (aka “same”) salt.
This brings us to the second question: is salt a compound or a mixture? Let’s use our Crystal Ball again. With a crystal ball, you are looking at a pattern of voids that represents the different atomic particles present in the salt crystal. If you put salt into the image, you are looking at a series of voids in the image, which represents the different composites found in the salt mixture.
Now, if we look at the periodic table (and the periodic table is a diagram of all the different elements that make up the Earth), we see that sodium (a common salt) is one of the only substances that does not contain carbon at all. Other elements that do not contain carbon are bromine, iodine, sulphur, chlorine, neon, and the element selenium. So sodium chloride is not an inorganic compound at all, and is in fact the only salt that does not contain carbon. Therefore, we can safely say that salt is not salt at all!
But is salt a compound or a mixture? Well, if sodium chloride is heated to a specific temperature, it will change from a solid into a liquid, as shown in the previous paragraph. It is also important to remember that different cations will dissolve different minerals in water. For instance, calcium and magnesium will dissolve in deionized water, whereas lime and carbonate will not.
Now let us return to our original question: is salt a compound or a mixture? The answer is no, because salt is not a complex compound, even though it can be made to be a complex compound by adding various chemicals. For example, salt can be made by combining sodium chloride and water. If this mixture is poured into a container with an opening at the top, and the steam is allowed to enter the container, then sodium chloride will diffuse into the steam and evaporate, turning it into sodium chloride sulfate (chlorate).
We have just learned that salt does not have an organic compound structure, so it cannot be made to be an inorganic compound by adding different chemicals to it. So the next time someone asks the question: is salt a compound, the best answer they can give is “no, it is not”. Looking closely at the properties of salt is also a good way to tell that it is not something that is composed of inorganic compounds, because salt contains inorganic compounds. These compounds are shown in the table below, along with their chemical compositions.