What Elements Make up Table Salt?

Leonid Mamchenkov/CC-BY 2.0

Table salt is an ionic compound composed of the elements sodium and chlorine, in equal proportions. The chemical symbol for this compound is NaCl, and it is an essential nutrient for human beings and many other animals.

This type of salt is known as halite, or rock salt, in its mineral form, and it is the primary cause for the salinity in the oceans. In addition to seasoning foods, sodium chloride is used by humans to de-ice roadways, as a preservative for fish and other meats and in the processing of industrial chemicals. The main suppliers of the world’s salt are China and the United States, which together produced over 100 million tons in 2010.