Is iodized salt flammable? (A comprehensive guide)

This article will answer the following question: “Is iodized salt flammable?”. We will also explain what iodized salt is, what salts are, and the fire hazards involved.

Is iodized salt flammable?

No. Iodized salt is table salt and is not flammable. It’s an inorganic compound that can’t catch fire because it is not combustible. If we toss it into the fire, no chemical changes would happen. After the fire stops it’d be possible to find the salt unchanged in the ashes.

What is iodized salt?

Iodized salt is a table salt that has iodine salts added to it.

Table salt is a mineral composed of sodium chloride (NaCl). It is processed from salt mines and by the evaporation of seawater.

We require Iodine in our bodies so it can synthesize thyroid hormones, essential for our health. The lack of it may lead us to disinvolve endemic goiter, among other diseases.

Iodine deficiency affects around two billion people worldwide and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Knowing that iodine deficiency is prejudicial, some governments oblige manufacturers to supplement table salt with iodine. Around 88% of all households worldwide use iodized salt, but it’s still a problem in some underdeveloped countries.

Salt is a chemical compound made from ionic compounds (an anion and a cation). Four inorganic compounds can be used to supplement iodine in table salts: potassium iodate, potassium iodide, sodium iodate, and sodium iodide. 

Animals also require iodine in their alimentation. To supplement their feeding, hydrogen iodide is often used to feed livestock for example.

What is iodine?

Iodine is a chemical element.

It is the fourth halogen, a member of group 17 in the periodic table. It’s the heaviest member of its group, and also the heaviest essential mineral nutrient for our bodies.

It exists in many forms. We usually don’t encounter it in its pure form, only in salts or in a liquid solution. Commercially available forms of iodine are not pure forms of it.

Iodine is solid and has the formula I2 in its pure crystalline form, but it can also be gas and present the same formula. It also exists as Iodide (I), iodate (IO3), some kinds of acid, and periodate anions (IO4, IO6−5, and others).

Iodine’s primary use is in our nutrition. We require Iodine in our bodies so it can synthesize thyroid hormones. The lack of it may lead us to disinvolve goiter disease and prejudice the central nervous system development in fetuses and infants.

Knowing that iodine deficiency is prejudicial, some governments oblige manufacturers to supplement table salt with iodine. Around 88% of all households worldwide use iodized salt, but it’s still a problem in some underdeveloped countries.

Some forms of salts considered gourmets, such as Himalayan Pink Salt, Kosher salt, Smoked salts, and others, may not have iodide added to their formulation.

If you mainly consume a salt that doesn’t contain iodine, consider speaking to a doctor about starting iodine supplementation.

Industrially, iodide anion is used as a catalyst in the production of acetic acid, and in organic chemistry to synthesize certain polymers.

What is a salt?

Salt is a chemical compound that has an ionic form, it’s made of a cation and an anion, which respectively have positive and negative electrical charges.

Normally, for a salt to become stable, the charges must cancel each other, so there are no net electrical charges.

Salts can present many physical forms, different solubilities, odors, tastes, melting points, and conductivity.

Salt is always a result of a chemical reaction between an acid and a base, but can also be the result of a metal and a non-metal.

When a salt has a high solubility in water it is considered a strong salt. It happens because its electrolytes can easily achieve an ionic form in a water solution, which also means that they’re stable.

In chemistry, chemical species always tend to achieve stability. There are countless ways to do so, but low reactivity is normally a sign of stability. Salts often present low reactivity.

Sodium chloride properties

  • Chemical formula: NaCl
  • Molar mass: 58.443 g/mol
  • Appearance: Colorless cubic crystals
  • Odor: Odorless
  • Density: 2.17 g/cm3
  • Melting point: 800.7 °C (1,473.3 °F)
  • Boiling point: 1,465 °C (2,669 °F)
  • Solubility in water: 360 g/1000 g pure water at T = 25 °C
  • CAS Number: 7647-14-5 
  • Heat capacity (C): 50.5 J/(K·mol)
  • Std enthalpy of formation: −411.120 kJ/mol

Does iodized salt catch fire?

Both table salt and iodized table salt can’t catch fire. They are inorganic species that do not react with the air’s oxygen. An attempt of burning them wouldn’t generate any flames.

At first sight, it may look that anything is combustible in powder form. Fine particles indeed have a big surface area that makes chemical reactions happen more easily, but combustion requires other things as well.

Fire only happens when a source of fuel suffers thermal decomposition, which culminates in combustion (which is nothing but a specific form of oxidation).

Salts can’t burn because they can’t decompose unless they reach thousands of degrees and because they can’t react with oxygen. 

Ultimately, if we force table salt to react with oxygen, it wouldn’t generate heat and, therefore, there would be no flames.

If you wish to understand more about it, first we need to speak about what fire is.

What is fire?

Fire is something intrinsically related to life.

Nevertheless, fire only happens on our planet, as far as we know.

All organic matter on our planet originated from life at some point. Inorganic compounds normally can’t burn, especially salts.

Fire is something that started on our planet only after the plants settled on the land, which occurred more or less 400 million years ago. There was heat back then, but no fuel to burn.

There are three ways in which the thermal decomposition of organic matter happens: oxidation, pyrolysis, and evaporation/ vaporization.

All three happen at once during a fire. How fire will look depends on how these three events happen. 

For example, in a blue fire from an oven, oxidation is almost the only thing that happens, because the fuel is already vaporized (it is a gas), and its chemical composition is simple (the carbon chains are small), so pyrolysis can’t be seen.

In a fireplace, although, we can see many more yellow and red flames, smoke, fumes, and all kinds of byproducts from incomplete combustion. This happens because the chemical reactions are much more complex since the fuel has a very different composition.

When wood burns, the solid material is constantly being stimulated to a vapor-like state and suffers all kinds of breakdowns before finally reacting with oxygen (combustion). All these chemical reactions lead to many byproducts, many of which are toxic to us.

Sodium chloridate, although, doesn’t suffer a reaction with oxygen like that. Any kind of salt can’t participate in combustion reactions.

What About Pink Salt?

Pink salt is a common name for Himalayan salt. It’s also a form of rock just like many salts out there. Between 96 and 99% of pink salt is made from the same ingredients like table salt. 

Pink Salt is also not flammable, just like regular salt. It is almost entirely made of sodium chloride, which can’t burn at all.

The pink color occurs due to the presence of other compounds such as calcium, iron, zinc, chromium, magnesium, and sulfates. 

Although the chemical composition of pink salt varies, we can say that it is the same as table salt. The experience of eating something is much more than the taste we sense, it’s a whole experience. 

Besides, the other compounds that make the color of the rock turn pink can present more taste to the meal.

Although, special salts do not necessarily have iodine added to them, which can be a problem for someone that mostly uses it.

Is Heating iodized salt Dangerous at all?

No. Any temperature we can reach in our home is just like a walk in the park for salt. No toxic vapors would be unleashed even if you toss them directly into the fire.

The temperature required to thermally decompose common salt is something around 2000ºC (3632ºF), something that even industrial ovens can’t even get close to.

Salt is probably the least fire hazard in our homes and can be used to cease fire.

Conclusion

Iodized salt is table salt that has a little iodine added to the formula. It can’t catch fire because the combustion reaction that generates fire can’t happen. Salt is inert and could be used to extinguish flames.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Is iodized salt flammable?

is iodized salt bad?

The iodine in table salt is not bad for you, it is required so we can leave a healthy life. It is added to the salt because everyone uses it in cooking, so it’s a nice way to make sure people will eat it.

Iodine is a nutrient in our body that synthesize thyroid hormones, essential for our health. The lack of it may lead us to disinvolve endemic goiter, among other diseases.

But eating too much iodized salt can be bad for your health, not because of iodine, but because too much salt can cause high blood pressure, leading to other countless diseases.

is iodized salt necessary?

Yes. Well, there are other sources of iodine such as seafood, but is much easier to have our daily iodine intake by consuming it directly with iodized salt.

The iodine ratio in common table salt is already optimized so we can have enough iodine. 

Also, if you take too much iodized salt, you’d see the effects of it on your blood pressure before you see iodine effects on the thyroid.

can iodized salt be kosher?

Kosher salt normally doesn’t have iodine added to it. If you mainly consume kosher salt, you may suffer from iodine deficiency someday. Consider talking to your doctor about that.

Citations

Pyne, Stephen J. Fire: a brief history. University of Washington Press, 2019.

Wells, Alexander Frank. Structural inorganic chemistry. Oxford university press, 2012.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_chloride
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional

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