Sources of Sodium

Evan Zabawski | Senior Technical Advisor, TestOil

Sodium is an indicator of a coolant leak, often in conjunction with potassium and/or boron; these elements are present due to the additives used in many coolant formulations. The presence of these elements alongside detected glycol and water often indicate a severe or bottom-end leak, but the absence of glycol and water typically represent a top-end leak where the liquid portion of the coolant is being combusted or boiled out of the system.

Sodium is also an indicator of contamination with salt, whether it is from moisture ingression from a nearby source of salt water, or airborne particulate ingression from nearby roads that are salted in the wintertime.

Users of activated alumina acid scavenging systems may see sodium appear as well, typically in conjunction with aluminum, especially in the first sample after a new set of cartridges is installed. A correlation with an increase in particle count will likely be observed.

On rare occasions, boron may be due to residual cleaner from drum/tote recycling, as the cleaners that are used may be borate-based.


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About the Author

Evan Zabawski Senior Technical Advisor, TestOil

Evan is a Certified Lubrication Specialist. Evan has extensive experience training tradesmen and professionals in a variety of fields including: lubrication fundamentals, contamination control, condition monitoring, RCM/FMEA and used oil analysis. Evan has been a member of STLE for over 20 years, serving as Chair of the Alberta Section for 8 years, and also as an instructor of the Condition Monitoring course at STLE Annual Meetings. Currently, Evan has Editor of TLT Magazine, and have served as the Editor for The STLE Alberta Section’s Basic Handbook of Lubrication – Third Edition, and contributed as one of the editors for STLE/CRC’s Handbook of Lubrication and Tribology, Volume II: Theory and Design, Second Edition. Evan has published several technical papers and am also a member in good standing of API and ASTM.