Brendan Stengel

Rowland Webb
Honors Chemistry
28 February 2014
Sodium Acetate (C2H3NaO2)
Sodium acetate is one of the many chemicals in our world, even though most people have
never heard of it. A common person uses it on an everyday basis much more than they think.
Sodium acetate is a white or colorless crystalline compound. It is a sodium salt of acetic acid. It
is used in electroplating, as buffers in petroleum production, in food preservation and for drilling
mud. Sodium Acetate is made through a reaction of acetic acid with sodium hydroxide;
hydroxide is a compound of a metal with the hydroxide ion or sodium carbonate which is
dissolved carbon in a liquid.
Sodium acetate is a substance that can be easily made from vinegar and baking soda. As
the mixture cools below its melting point, it crystallizes. In order to create this crystal, the water
from a solution of sodium acetate has to be boiled away. This crystal form of sodium acetate is
typically found as sodium acetate trihydrate which means that three molecules of water are
present for each formula unit of sodium acetate. The crystallization is an exothermic process, so
the crystals actually produce heat, this is where the chemical gets its common name, ‘hot ice’. As
a cleanser, sodium acetate counteracts high levels of sulfuric acid found in factory run-off. It
maintains bright metallic surfaces by eradicating rust and stains.
This chemical is used in multiple ways for everyday use and one of the main uses comes through
the food industry. Sodium acetate is the sodium salt of acetic acid. It's also the primary flavoring
in salt and vinegar potato chips. It is used as a preservative and pickling agent. Because it helps
the food maintain a specific pH, the salt can prohibit the growth of unwanted bacteria. In the
pickling process, larger quantities of the chemical are used, not only serving to buffer the food
from microorganisms, but also boosting the flavor of the food product. It’s also used to provide
a range of uses such as buffers in petroleum production and drilling muds, and in electroplating.
Sodium acetate is used for industrial purposes such as waste streams, chrome tanning, and
synthetic rubber production. It is used in the waste streams because it helps to neutralize the
sulfuric acid. It is a main element in chrome tanning. It is used in synthetic rubber production to
help slow down the vulcanization of chloroprene. Sodium acetate also acts as a convert sealant
which helps to reduce the damage that water can potentially do to concrete. It is also known for
its use in heating pads, and hand warmers which also helps to back its common name ‘hot ice’.
Sodium acetate was discovered during the ancient times by somebody who accidently
mixed ashes from a fire with vinegar. Vinegar was the result of wine being left alone for a long
period of time. When the vinegar and ashes were mixed it created a solution that helped to repair
leather. Today sodium acetate is usually purchased instead of being synthesized. Sodium
acetate can be broken down to the sodium salt of acetic acid. When sodium acetate is put in
water it will dissolve and separate into ions; sodium ions and acetate ions. Sodium acetate
contains both ionic and covalent bonds. The sodium forms an ionic bond with the one oxygen
with a single bond with the carbon. This becomes the action which then allows the oxygen and
all the other atoms in the acetate to form covalent bonds.
Sodium acetate may seem like a small, unknown chemical, but it affects our lives in more
ways than we think; from foods to drilling to medical uses and to keeping our environment safe.
The most well- known uses of this chemical are its use in salt and vinegar potato chips and its
use in pickle conservation. Without this chemical our lives would not be so easy or enjoyable,
do not take it for advantage because it makes our lives easier and even helps to safe them, it’s
even one of the most interesting elements with its crystals and all the other properties. Sodium
acetate is unknown but a great element.