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Why is solid sodium chloride white - and for that matter, why are the majority of salts white in solid form?

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closed as too broad by Todd Minehardt, Klaus-Dieter Warzecha, Jan, ron, Zhe Jan 16 '17 at 2:34

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  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Why is snow white? $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jan 15 '17 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/42303/… $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jan 15 '17 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ I'll point out that in mineralogy a streak test (geology.com/minerals/streak-test.shtml) is used to help identify the mineral. The gist is that the color of the fine particles created by rubbing the mineral across a plate of alumina is observed. For any mineral of light color the streak will probably be white or whitish, but for very dark colored minerals a very different color can often be observed. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Jan 15 '17 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of why are simple organic molecules usually white? $\endgroup$ – Jan Jan 15 '17 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Considering that sodium chloride is neither snow nor a simple organic molecule, I'm not sure how much of a duplicate this is. The argument has already been had in the comments on the latter question. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Jan 15 '17 at 21:52
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  1. Sodium chloride is colorless because the electrons are tightly bond tho the sodium cation and the chloride anion. Visible light has not enough energy to excite the electrons to higher energy levels. So there's no absorption or emission of visible light of a certain wavelength and therefore no color.

  2. I wouldn't say that the majority of salts is colorless, since the more complex the composition of a salt is the more likely it is not colorless.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Majority" is perhaps the wrong word, but practically all oxides, (pseudo-)halides, sulfates, nitrates etc. of main group metals are white, plus great many more. The big exception are compounds containing late transition metals, being often coloured. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 15 '17 at 20:53

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