Let's take a moment to talk about ionic compounds, as I think this might come in handy for future posts. I'm admittedly not the best person to talk about chemistry concepts, but I'll do my best not to say something completely untrue. Here goes:
Ionic compounds are chemical compounds usually consisting of positively charged cations bonded with negatively charged anions or polyatomic ions. The key here is the ionic bond -- a pretty standard bond to wrap one's head around, since it functions on the attraction of positive charges to negative charges. Something like magnets, I guess.
(Crap. Now I need to define cations, anions, and polyatomic ions...) So they're all ions, if you've noticed, which means they have an unequal balance of protons and electrons, the positive and negative components of atoms, respectively. Cations are positively charged atoms, anions are negatively charged atoms, and polyatomic ions are molecules (I have to use this term loosely) of an unbalanced charge (very often negative). Molecules are just groups of atoms, like or unlike, and they are supposed to have a neutral charge. Polyatomic ions consist of specifically unlike atoms, and of course they're not neutral.
Okay. The part I really want to get to is the other name that ionic compounds go by...
Sodium chloride is an ionic compound, and apparently it's everybody's favorite, because now all ionic compounds are sporting its name. It's certainly the most delicious.
Here are some other ionic compounds that we ingest:
- Sodium Flouride: found in toothpaste (which you shouldn't eat) and tablets to prevent cavities.
- Ammonium Chloride: used in cough medicine; as a food additive; and in something called "Salty Licorice" (which doesn't contain table salt, but Ammonium Chloride is a salt).
- Potassium Iodide: used to supplement table salt with iodine, to help prevent iodine deficiency.
- Calcium Chloride: used as a food additive and firming agent.
I'm sure the list goes on. That was only four, obviously.
Anyway, this is all supposed to be a briefing for some future subjects I'd like to discuss. My definitions were all a bit rudimentary, and no doubt muddled (I doodled my way through chem class), so you might consider taking a trip to Wikipedia. Like this page, for example.