General Description

Sodium Acetate, sodium salt of acetic acid, is a white or colourless crystalline compound, prepared by the reaction of acetic acid with sodium carbonate or with sodium hydroxide. There are commercially anhydrous salt or trihydrate form losing water at 58 C. Both are soluble in water and in ethoxyethane, and slightly soluble in ethanol.

The Uses Of Sodium Acetate

Sulfuric Acid Neutralizer

Sodium acetate is used in the textile industry to neutralize sulfuric acid waste streams, and as a photoresist while using aniline dyes. It is also a pickling agent in chrome tanning, and it helps to retard vulcanization of chloroprene in synthetic rubber production.

Chips Flavouring

Sodium acetate is the chemical that gives salt and vinegar chips their flavour. It may also be added to foods as a preservative; in this application it is usually written as “sodium diacetate” and labeled E262.

pH Buffer

As the conjugate base of a weak acid, a solution of sodium acetate and acetic acid can act as a buffer to keep a relatively constant pH. This is useful especially in biochemical applications where reactions are pH dependent.

Heating Pads

Sodium acetate is also used in consumer heating pads or hand warmers and is also used in “hot ice”. When sodium acetate trihydrate crystals (melting point 58 °C) are heated to around 100 °C, they melt. When this melt cools, it gives a supersaturated solution of sodium acetate in water. This solution is capable of supercooling to room temperature, well below its melting point, without forming crystals. By clicking on a metal disc in the heating pad, a nucleation center is formed which causes the solution to crystallize into solid sodium acetate trihydrate again.

First Aid Measures

Eye Contact: 
Check for and remove any contact lenses. In case of contact, immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Cold water may be used. Get medical attention if irritation occurs.

Skin Contact: 
Wash with soap and water. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. Get medical attention if irritation develops. Cold water may be used.

If inhaled, remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention if symptoms appear.

Do NOT induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. Get medical attention if symptoms appear.