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A colourless crystalline solid, NaCl, soluble in water and very slightly soluble in ethanol; cubic; r.d. 2.17; m.p. 801°C; b.p. 1413°C. It occurs as the mineral halite (rock salt) and in natural brines and sea water. It has the interesting property of a solubility in water that changes very little with temperature. It is used industrially as the starting point for a range of sodium-based products (e.g. Solvay process for Na2CO3, Castner-Kellner process for NaOH), and is known universally as a preservative and seasoner of foods. Sodium chloride has a key role in biological systems in maintaining electrolyte balances.
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