In the food industry, sodium ethanoate 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 meat and poultry. It has even been said to reduce the risk of hangover when added to alcoholic products.
Sodium acetate can serve as a form of sodium for intravenous use, when doctors need to prevent or manage hyponatremia, the condition of having low sodium in the blood. It is also used in certain combinations for use with renal dialysis.
Diluted, it can be used as an alternative salt solution to sodium chloride in IVs. While the risks to using sodium acetate are fairly minimal, they are worth knowing. Before it can be added to an IV, the chemical must be diluted. The patient should receive the solution slowly in order to avoid water retention and an imbalance of electrolytes. For patients with kidney problems, the aluminum found within this solution might be toxic. Despite these risks, the solution has been deemed safe for all ages of patients.
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. It can even be found in leather tanning solutions and photography development treatments. More recently, the chemical is being used for water treatment, as opposed to the less environmentally-friendly methanol.
The textile industry has a lot of use for this salt as it is able to remove calcium salts, which then lengthens the life of the finished fabric. What’s more, in the health and beauty industry, sodium acetate is used to make soap and a variety of cosmetic products. This is due to its good buffering and neutralizing components.
Many people may have a form of sodium acetate at home without even knowing it, as the compound is frequently used in heating pads. Highly saturated in water, it remains in a liquid form until a metal disk that is suspended in the solution is bent and flexed. This is easily done by working the pad with the hands. Attached to the metal disk are a few crystallized molecules that are released by the motion of the disk. They cause a quick chain reaction with the other molecules in the solution which rapidly solidify and emit heat. The heat can ease aches and pains when placed on sore muscles.