Sodium phosphate is a sodium salt of phosphoric acid which at room temperature forms as a solid white powder. It is usually referred to as trisodium phosphate or (TSP).
The formula for sodium phosphate molecular or chemical formula is Na3PO4, which means that Na has a charge of +1 and PO4 has a charge of -3. The reason that Na has a 3 after it is because PO4 has a charge of -3. In scientific terms it means that Na has a charge of +1 and therefore is not necessary to do anything when there is a +1 charge. When on one side of a compound the ion has a specified charge, then to balance it out you place the charge number behind the other ion in the compound.
The other forms of sodium phosphates include:
- sodium dihydrogen phosphate (NaH2PO4), also known as monosodium phosphate or sodium phosphate, monobasic
- disodium hydrogen phosphate (Na2HPO4) also known as disodium phosphate or sodium phosphate, dibasic
- sodium aluminium phosphate (Na8Al2(OH)2(PO4)4)
Some uses of sodium phosphates are as meat preservatives, eg. in canned meats, as an alternative to sodium nitrite, as a prescription medicine to empty the bowel before a colonoscopy, as household and industrial cleaners.