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Difference Between Sodium and Potassium

Sodium vs Potassium

Sodium and potassium are alkaline metals found naturally along with minerals. Both show similar behaviors including physical and chemical properties. They have a crucial role in sustaining all forms of life. They have a similar atomic structure; their outermost orbit has only one electron; they are highly reactive and form ionic bonds. They are soft metals, silvery white in appearance with a low melting point.

Sodium is present naturally in vast amounts as dissolved in the seawater. Other naturally occurring deposits of this element include cryolite, soda niter, and zeolite.
Sodium is represented as Na, and the atomic number of Na is 11. It has an electronic configuration of 3s1. Its outermost orbit has only one electron, and that is why this metal is highly reactive. The valence of sodium is 1. The atom loses its outermost electron easily forming strong electrovalent bonds. On heating, this metal imparts a characteristic color to the flame. The color of the flame is the result of the excitation of electrons to higher levels. This excitation is caused by the heat energy imparted to the metal by the flame. When these excited electrons return back to their normal states, they release the previously absorbed energy in the form of visible light.

Sodium contributes to many commercially important chemicals which are used for various industrial purposes. Sodium hydroxide, baking soda, common salt, sodium nitrate, borax and soda ash are the most commonly used chemical compounds of sodium.
Sodium also plays an important role in all life forms. It maintains the appropriate balance of fluids in the cells and is helpful in transmitting nervous impulses.

Potassium is present on the Earth’s crust in the form of minerals. Main ores having ample amounts of potassium are orthoclase, granite, sylvite, carnallite.
Potassium is represented as the symbol K. Its atomic number is 19, and it has an electronic configuration of 4s1. Potassium shows many physical and chemical properties similar to those of sodium. Potassium is also highly reactive and form electrovalent bonds. However, its reactivity with water is much fiercer as compared to that of sodium. Potassium also burns in a Bunsen burner imparting a violet flame. Despite the fact that the atomic number of potassium is greater than sodium, the density of potassium is less than that of sodium.
Potassium also has many industrial applications. It is used in the preparation of commercial soaps. Still, its uses cannot outnumber the commercial uses of sodium.
Potassium along with sodium forms a sodium–potassium pump which actively transports ATP in and out of the cells.


1.Sodium is represented as Na while potassium is represented as K.
2.The atomic number of sodium is 11 while that of potassium is 19.
3.The density of sodium is greater than that of potassium.
4.Sodium burns in a Bunsen flame imparting a golden-yellow color while potassium burns with a pale, violet flame.
5.Both react with water producing hydrogen gas, but the reaction of potassium is much more violent as compared to that of sodium.
6.With oxygen, sodium forms peroxide while potassium forms superoxides.

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  1. This is a realllllly goood site!! 🙂 Goood job!!

  2. My mother has her low sodium levels in her body which makes her pass out. Confused etc.. I want to know 1. What do I do to in increase her levels of sodium? Does potassium have anything to do with her sodium levels? Can you help me best regards.
    Thank you in advance for any way you can help me.

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