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Sodium, Na (from it's alternate name "nathium"), atomic number 11, is a soft grey metal that sits in the alkali metals section of the periodic table.
Alkali metals all share the trait of being extremely reactive to many things, and sodium is no exception, however as you go down the list of alkali metals they tend to get more and more reactive, so sodium, being near the top, is not too bad, compared to the others anyway.
A chunk of sodium thrown into water (Na+H2O) will bring about a violent reaction resulting in lye(sodium hydroxide, NaOH), and hydrogen gas (Just H), and lots of heat, which can in turn bring about the violent combustion of the aformentioned hydrogen gas. A piece of sodium big enough to see will fizz audibly, a piece bigger than a penny will catch fire like a blow torch, and a piece bigger than a walnut will explode loudly.
At one point I tried, with limited success, to make my own sodium, through a firey reaction of sodium hydroxide (lye) and pure magnesium, both in powder form, but the results were a grey gritty crud that reacted only slightly with water, meaning there was sodium, but not much. I didn't see this as worth saving, so I chucked it all in water and was briefly amused. Most likely my experiment failed because I only had a gram or so of magnesium to work with, it would work better if you had more the reactants. This page thoroughly explains the reaction if you're interested(thanks to Nighthawkinlight on YouTube): http://www.grassrootsdiy.com/sodium.htm
Sodium can also be made by electrolyzing liquid sodium chloride (table salt), however this requires lots of heat to keep it molten, and lots of electricity to split the bonds between sodium and chlorine, which, both being very reactive, are quite happy with each other. It also helps to do this with no air around, because otherwise your sodium will catch fire and it'll all be for nothing. This may sound like an extensive and difficult process, but actually, it is the most commonly used commercial method of making sodium today.
These are my samples!
Small cubic chunks of sodium, stored under mineral oil to protect them from air. Originally the vial was a bit small, but since sodium is basically like wax, I was able to just mash it in anyway. Amazing stuff.
Date added(year-month-day):20110723, sample number:9
Tags(Elements in sample):sodium
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