Is common salt important

Uses of different salts in daily life

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Uses of different salts in daily life

  1. Many different types of salts can be found in nature.
  2. The sea contains many salts such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulphate and potassium bromide.
  3. The earth’s crust is made up of minerals containing various types of salts such as calcium fluoride (fluorite), magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt), lead(II) sulphide (galena) and calcium carbonate (limestone).

Uses of salts

  1. Salts play an important role in our daily life.
  2. The following gives examples of salts and their uses in daily life.


  1. Chemical fertilisers
    (a) Most of the chemical fertilisers used by farmers are salts.
    (b) These salts include ammonium chloride, ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, potassium chloride and NPK fertilisers.
    (c) NPK fertilisers contain the elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium obtained from salts such as ammonium phosphate and potassium chloride.
  2. Pesticides
    (a) Certain salts are used as pesticides to kill or destroy insects, pests, weeds and fungi.
    (b) Examples include copper(II) sulphate, iron(II) sulphate, mercury chloride, sodium arsenate and sodium chlorate(V).

Medical field

  1. Hydrated calcium sulphate, CaSO4.2H2O, is found in plaster of Paris. It is used to make plaster casts for supporting broken bones.
  2. Iron(II) sulphate heptahydrate, FeSO4.7H2O is an ingredient in ‘iron pills’. It is used as an iron supplement for patients suffering from anaemia.
  3. Potassium chloride is used as a substitute for patients who need a low intake of sodium salt.
  4. Magnesium sulphate heptahydrate (Epsom salt) and sodium sulphate decahydrate (Glauber salt) are used as laxatives.
  5. Sodium hydrogen carbonate is an ingredient in anti-acids. This salt can neutralise the excess acid secreted by the stomach.
  6. Barium sulphate is used to make barium meals for patients who need to take an X-ray of their stomach. The salt helps to make internal soft organs like intestines appear on X-ray films.
  7. Potassium manganate(VII) can kill bacteria and hence is suitable for use as an disinfectant.

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Food industry

  1. Sodium chloride is used as a food additive in the preparation of food, to give foods a salty taste. It is also used as a food preservative.
  2. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is another food additive used in food preparation to enhance the taste of foods.
  3. Sodium hydrogen carbonate is found in baking powders. Together with acid salts such as potassium hydrogen tartrate, calcium hydrogen phosphate and sodium hydrogen phosphate, they react in the presence of water to produce carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide escapes, it helps to make the cake or bread rise.
  4. Sodium nitrite and sodium benzoate are examples of salts used as food preservatives. Sodium nitrite helps to preserve processed meat such as ham and sausages. Sodium benzoate is found in tomato sauce and chilli sauce.


  1. Sodium hypochlorite is a bleaching agent and a disinfectant. Cleaning agents contain this compound.
  2. Tin(II) fluoride is added to toothpaste and water to prevent tooth decay.
  3. Sodium carbonate decahydrate is used in making soda-lime glass.
  4. Silver bromide is used in the making of photographic paper and film.

The following table lists uses of some salts:

Sodium chloride (NaCl)
  1. An essential requirement of our food
  2. In the preservation of food
  3. In curing fish and meat
  4. In making a freezing mixture which is used by icecream vendors
  5. In the manufacture of soaps
Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3)
  1. As washing soda for cleaning clothes
  2. Used in the manufacture of glass, paper, textiles, caustic soda, etc.
  3. In the refining of petroleum
  4. In fire extinguishers
Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3)
  1. Used as baking soda
  2. In fire extinguishers
  3. As an antacid in medicine
Potassium nitrate (KNO3)
  1. To make gunpowder, fireworks and glass
  2. As a fertilizer in agriculture
Copper sulphate (CuSO4)
  1. Commonly called ‘blue vitriol’, used as a fungicide to kill certain germs
  2. In electroplating
  3. In dyeing
Potash alum (K2SO4.Al2(SO4)3.24H2O)
  1. Used to purify water; makes suspended particles in water settle down
  2. As an antiseptic
  3. In dyeing
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3)
  1. Flooring in the form of marble
  2. To make lime (CaO),cement
  3. For extraction of iron
Silver nitrate (AgNO3)
  1. In photography for developing films
Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3)
  1. Fertilizers and explosives

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