I’ve seen the video etc of sodium being put into freshwater and the reaction of flames/small explosion but I wonder if the same reaction would occur if conducted in salt water such as the ocean.


Yes, sodium metal is also going to react exothermically with salt water or any other aqueous solution as long as it comes in contact with water:

$$\ce{Na (s) + H2O -> Na+ (aq) + OH- (aq) + 0.5 H2 (g)}$$

eventually leading to explosion of hydrogen-oxygen mix forming near the water surface. Presence of sodium chloride in salt water isn't going to influence the reaction as it neither capable of shifting equilibrium to the left (gas formation), nor passivate sodium metal surface as it would do, for instance, some viscous oil.

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    $\begingroup$ According to this post, this is an incomplete explanation of the reason for explosion. $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Jan 21 '19 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruslan Of course it's incomplete because that's not what OP asked about. Thanks for providing the URL, now those who are also interested in how the detonation occurs, may quickly find the answer:) $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Jan 21 '19 at 20:16

Sodium catches fire even in humid atmosphere. Salt water will make no difference. It will react with water in solution of salt in water, and the heat evolved will be very high and will vapourize sodium and it will fly away and may cause injuries. Do not do this at home.


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