Salt is so weakly magnetic that it is considered to be non-magnetic.
This article will give you an in depth look at what exactly salt is, what it looks like, where it comes from and what it’s used for.
Is Salt Magnetic? (EXPLAINED)
Today, salt is just about universally accessible, proportionately cheap, and often iodized as table salt.
Though salt has a long history of uses dating back to the 600 BC, its magnetism was first tested in 1881 by German physicist Emil Warburg.
What Is Salt?
NaCl, or salt, also referred to as table salt, is an ionic compound made of sodium and chloride ions that is soluble in water.
Salt for our dinner tables usually comes from two main sources, which are sea water and the sodium chloride mineral halite (also known as rock salt).
Rock salt occurs all over the world in vast beds and deposits of sedimentary evaporated minerals that result from the drying up of lakes, and inland marginal seas in arid regions of the world.
Salt beds may be up to a thousand feet thick and underlie broad areas.
In North America, extensive underground salt beds reach from the Appalachian Mountains to New York through portions of Ontario.
Salt is extracted from underneath the ground in one of two ways.
Either by traditional mining or by solution mining, which uses water to dissolve the salt. In the process of solution mining, the salt floats to the surface as brine, where the water is evaporated leaving only salt crystals.
All through history, humankinds’ survival has evolved to depend on salt’s chemical properties and the availability of salt has been pivotal to civilization.
It has been used for food preservation and seasoning by humans for thousands of years.
The ability salt possesses to preserve food was a founding benefactor to the establishment of civilization.
It aided in eliminating seasonal availability dependence of food and made it possible to transport food over long distances.
However, salt was frequently difficult to obtain, so it was a high-value trade item. It was even considered a form of currency by some.
Many salt roads, such as the via Salaria in Italy, were established in the Bronze Age and used for hundreds of years.
Salt has long played a leading role in determining the location and leveraging or power of the world’s great cities.
Liverpool became the prime entrepôt for much of the world’s salt in the 1800s, rising from just a small English port thanks to the salt in the great Cheshire salt mines.
Salt had the power to create and destroy empires.
Such as, the salt mines of Poland led to an expansive kingdom in the 1500s, only to be brought down when the Germans introduced sea salt (which was considered the superior of the two).
What Does It Mean For A Substance To Be Magnetic?
The term “magnetic” informally refers to any compound, metal, rock, or substance that shows visible attraction to a magnet.
Meaning, magnetism is the force that attracts compounds to one another or does the opposite, called diamagnetic, and respells them away from each other.
As a whole, magnetism is just one aspect of the combined electromagnetic force.
Since the early 1800s, the term “magnetic susceptibility” has been dubbed as the scientific term for the degree to which a compound is attracted to or rejected by a magnetic field.
In the quantum mechanical property called “spin”, magnetism develops from the spinning or orbital motion of electrons or electric charges.
All substances on earth are made up of microscopic units called atoms.
Every atom has electrons, which are molecules that carry small electric charges.
While individually spinning, the electrons circle the nucleus, also known as the core, of an atom.
This movement generates an electric current which causes each electron to act as a microscopic magnet.
In most compounds, the same amount of electrons spin in opposite directions, which cancels out their magnetism.
On the other hand, certain compounds have electrons that aren’t paired with other electrons.
These unpaired electrons are now free to align themselves with another magnetic field.
The result of this is magnetic attraction.
Compounds that are considered both physically and magnetically inert don’t have many unpaired electrons and don’t show magnetic attraction.
This is the case with salt because it has zero unpaired electrons, and it does not display traditional magnetism.
Why Is Salt Non-Magnetic?
Salt rocks are very weakly magnetic, or non-magnetic solid substance, since they usually contain very few paramagnetic or ferromagnetic minerals.
Salt rocks mainly consist of diamagnetic minerals, halite, sylvite, carnallite and anhydrite with negative magnetic susceptibilities.
Therefore, pure salt is not naturally magnetic.
In contrast, natural salt rocks measure higher magnetic susceptibility values than processed salt.
This suggests that the increased magnetic susceptibility is attributed to small amounts of iron-bearing paramagnetic and ferromagnetic trace minerals that are contained within the insoluble residue.
Using magnetic susceptibility measurements, minute elements in mineralogical composition can be detected.
Taking either pure synthetic halite and sylvine crystals or iodized salt, there is a simple test to see for yourself if they are magnetic or not.
You can visually see salts’ magnetic susceptibility simply by using a neodymium disc magnet. Iodized salt is slightly diamagnetic, meaning it may repel away from the magnet almost as if the magnet is gently pushing it in the opposing direction.
Synthetic halite and sylvine crystals will be magnetically inert or show extremely weak signs of magnetism.
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