Sodium chloride, commonly referred to as salt or table salt, is an ionic compound found in medical treatments and various foods. Sodium chloride is used in preserving and flavoring food. It is also used to improve the flavor of foods such as cheeses and breads.
Meats, dairy products and margarine are preserved with sodium chloride because it slows down the growth of microorganisms. Salt encourages the natural growth of color in hot dogs and ham. It enhances the tenderness of cured meats by enabling them to absorb water.
As iodized salt, it contains iodine which is important for the synthesis of thyroid hormones which influence metabolic rates, growth and development. It also helps in the regulation of body fluids. Medically, it is used to form solutions used in intravenous infusions, catheter flush injections and cleaning objects such as contact lenses.
Sodium chloride is used to produce other chemicals. Chlorine products are used in plastics, water treatment, paper bleach and metal cleaners. Chemical soda ash, which contains sodium, is used in the manufacturing of water softeners, soaps, paper and glass. Chemicals formed from the combination of sodium chloride and other elements are used in metallurgy, ceramic glazes, photography and curing of hides.