What is sodium acetate

Sodium acetate is a chemical compound with the formula CH3COONa. It is composed of sodium ions (Na+) and acetate ions (CH3COO-), which is the conjugate base of acetic acid (CH3COOH). Sodium acetate can exist in various forms, including anhydrous (without water molecules) and trihydrate (with three water molecules).

What is sodium acetate

Here are some key points about sodium acetate:

  • Structure: Sodium acetate consists of positively charged sodium ions (Na+) and negatively charged acetate ions (CH3COO-). The acetate ion is composed of two atoms of carbon (C), three atoms of hydrogen (H) and two atoms of oxygen (O).

  • Physical Properties: Sodium acetate trihydrate is a white crystalline powder with a salty taste. It is often used as a food additive and has a wide range of industrial applications.


  • Food additive: Sodium acetate is sometimes used in the food industry as a seasoning or preservative. It can impart a salty and slightly vinegary flavor to foods.

  • Buffering Agent: Sodium acetate can be used as a buffering agent in a variety of chemical and biological applications. It helps maintain a constant pH in solutions, which is important in laboratory work and some industrial processes.

  • Heat pack: An interesting property of sodium acetate is its ability to undergo a process called "supercooling". In its trihydrate form, it can be dissolved in water and heated to form a supersaturated solution. When this solution is cooled below its melting point, it remains in a liquid state until it crystallizes by the introduction of seed crystals or by disturbing the solution. This property is used in heat packs or heat pads, where the crystallization of sodium acetate releases heat and provides warmth.

  • Textile industry: Sodium acetate can be used as a mordant (a substance that helps fix dyes in fabrics) and as a pH regulator in textile dyeing processes.

Sodium acetate is generally recognized as safe for consumption and for use in appropriate applications. However, like any chemical, it should be handled with care and used according to recommended guidelines to ensure safety and avoid any potential hazards.