Blog Post

How to Convert Salt to Sodium and Vice Versa

Salt Shakers

Have you ever wondered how to convert salt to sodium? Some countries list salt on their nutritional information panels. Other countries like Australia list sodium instead. And while there is a bit of overlap between the two, they are actually a little bit different.

What Is the Difference Between Salt and Sodium?

Salt is technically 40% sodium and 60% chloride. This is why salt is referred to as sodium chloride (NaCl).

To be overly specific, it has a 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions, but the molar masses are 22.99g/mol and 35.45g/mol respectively which explains why salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

And also as a technicality that you do not really need to know: it is possible for food to contain literally zero salt, while still containing sodium.

Some foods naturally contain some sodium, including things like celery and spinach. Typically, these are relatively small amounts. Meanwhile, some contain quite high amounts like sodium bicarbonate.

How to Convert Salt to Sodium and Vice Versa

To convert sodium to salt, you simply multiply by 2.5.

So, if a meal had 1000mg of sodium in it, that would be 2500mg of salt.

Except since we typically refer to salt in grams, it would be 2.5g of salt.

Vice versa, to convert salt to sodium, you divide by 2.5.

Quick Conversion Table

sodium recommended daily intake

What is the RDI for Sodium?

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for sodium is not really that clear cut. It used to be <2300mg per day as a general recommendation. But the current recommendation is that the suggested dietary target for adults is 2000mg per day.

It is also interestingly worded in that it is not clearly specified that the goal is to be below that number, although it is mentioned that it lines up with The World Health Organisation’s recommendation of aiming for <2000mg per day.

In addition to that, the adequate intake is 460-920mg. This is the amount that is required at a minimum for health purposes.

With sodium, there are both benefits and negative impacts. We still need some sodium for health reasons, which is where there is an adequate intake set.

For those with hypertension (high blood pressure), the current recommendation (popularised by The American Heart Foundation) is <1500mg per day.

To be clear, I am just repeating the gold standard recommendations here without bias. There are HEAPS of cases where you can consume significantly more sodium than this and still be healthy.

Some people even make arguments as to how a higher sodium intake can be beneficial for specific circumstances. That would be an entire topic in itself though beyond the scope of this post. The purpose of this section is more to put context around the amounts of sodium, so people have something to compare it to

Salt to sodium conversion chart

Why Is It Useful to Know the Conversion?

There are plenty of reasons that it could be useful to know the conversion. And obviously, if you are reading this post you have a reason for doing so.

Personally, I think in Australia, the main reason I think it is useful is for when adding salt to food.

All our labels only list sodium. Since that is what we base things on, if we are adding salt to food, we do not really have a clear reference point.

But knowing that the conversion is to divide salt by 2.5 to get the sodium amount could be useful.

For example, we know that a teaspoon of salt is around 5g of salt. So we could therefore make the assumption that if a teaspoon of salt was added to cooking, it would therefore be 2000mg of sodium.

Or alternatively, if ½ a teaspoon was used, it would be 1000mg of sodium.

This conversion allows us to put things into context.

By Aidan Muir

Aidan is a Brisbane based dietitian who prides himself on staying up-to-date with evidence-based approaches to dietetic intervention. He has long been interested in all things nutrition, particularly the effects of different dietary approaches on body composition and sports performance. Due to this passion, he has built up an extensive knowledge base and experience in multiple areas of nutrition and is able to help clients with a variety of conditions. One of Aidan’s main strengths is his ability to adapt plans based on the client's desires. By having such a thorough understanding of optimal nutrition for different situations he is able to develop detailed meal plans and guidance for clients that can contribute to improving the clients overall quality of life and performance. He offers services both in-person and online.