Introduction: How to Make Sodium Acetate From Household Ingredients

Picture of How to Make Sodium Acetate From Household Ingredients

Sodium acetate is the sodium salt of acetic acid. It's also the primary flavoring in salt and vinegar potato chips. This Instructable will show how to make sodium acetate using common household ingredients.

No special equipment of measuring is required. You can pretty much eyeball the whole process.

Note: This is a bit smelly and can irritate the eyes and skin.

This process is not sufficient to produce "hot ice". Too many contaminants. If you want to get a purified form for use in "hot ice" experiments, there's an Instructable by indigoandblack that should help. It's more involved but much more likely to get the results you want.

Standard Disclaimer: Not liable for damages due to use or misuse. No warranties expressed or implied. For educational purposes only. Safety goggles may be required during use. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary. Unauthorized personnel only. Ceci n'est pas une pipe.

Step 1: Materials

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You'll need:
- sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- acetic acid (vinegar)
- microwavable glass or ceramic containers
- coffee filters
- spoon

Step 2: Chemical Reaction

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Put some baking soda in one of the containers. I used a heaping spoonful in a measuring cup.

Add vinegar very slowly. Too much and the container will overflow with foam. Add a little, wait for the foaming to subside, add a little more.

Keep adding vinegar a little at a time, stirring the mixture.

Stop adding vinegar once the mixture stops bubbling, even with stirring.

What you should have now is a solution of sodium acetate in water. I ended up with the measuring cup nearly full of solution.

Step 3: Boiling

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Microwave the solution to boil off the water. It took me about 20 minutes on High. I did this in three 5-minute segments, followed by a series of 1-minute segments.

Keep boiling it down until you start to hear sizzling and popping sounds. It should still be a liquid, though. If you end up with a foul-smelling yellow lump, you've gone too far.

The resulting volume should be about 1/10 the original solution.

Note: The container will be very hot.

Step 4: Cooling

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At this point, you should have a super-saturated solution of sodium acetate. If you've got it right, blowing across the surface will cause crystals to form.

Let this cool to room temperature. It should form a translucent gel.

Step 5: Drying

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Scrape up the gel and any stray crystals and transfer this to a small bowl lined with a coffee filter. The filter will absorb some of the remaining water.

It helps the drying process if you break up the gel into smaller pieces.

Step 6: Grinding

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Break up the pieces into powder using the bowl of a spoon.

If the powder seems a bit sticky, put it on another coffee filter for a while to dry out.

At this point, you're pretty much done. There might still be some moisture in the powder but it should be minimal.


Prabhi123 (author)2017-12-01

Thank you so much for this information. It was super helpful!!

Ruettiger (author)2012-04-20

so do I put this on chips? What is this used for?

SamG11 (author)Ruettiger2014-12-22

Sodium acetate is actually used to flavour crisps (potato chips). Salt and vinegar flavour. I suppose the sodium tastes like salt and the acetate like acetic acid aka vinegar.

It's also used in those hand-warming packs that are apparently confusingly called "hot ice". The ones that are a bag of liquid with a little clicker disc inside. The solution is super-saturated, and is right on the point of crystallising. Clicking the disc provides a point for the crystal to start from, and it very quickly does, and turns solid.

The molecules in solids have less energy than in liquids, so when it turns solid the excess energy it had as a liquid is given off as heat. It's called latent heat (IIRC). This makes your hands warm.

If you make this stuff at home, and pack it into a thick plastic bag, you might be able to make a hand-warmer. It's probably easier just to buy one, they're not expensive, but SCIENCE!

You can re-charge the warming packs by heating them in water. The heat melts the crystal back into liquid again, putting the latent energy back in.

siriusstuff (author)SamG112017-04-24


It's actually an exothermic reaction. Latent heat is kind of a misnomer. You need to add heat to get latent heat as it cools off. The formation of crystals makes the molecules move really fast, creating heat, so basically a cool substance is creating heat.

An endothermic reacting is what you get from the cold packs you crack and put on a sore muscle.

I'm not being condescending. I had to look this up in my high school chemistry book just to make sure I got the terms correct.

When I looked this up a couple of years ago, I figured out if you take the pull tab from a beer or soda can, that will work for the "clicker" in the sodium acetate solution.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-12-29

I may have been wrong acetic acid forms a asytope with water which means it is not pure acetic acid but like 70% acetic acid 30% H20.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-11-23

Here is a method of turning 500 ml of 5% vinegar into 50 ml 95% acetic acid. It can be used for many purposes. Acetic acid boils at 118-119 degrees C while water boils at 100 degrees C so you can get ultra pure acetic acid. Becareful since you have a pretty strong acid.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-11-23

Also you could distill vingear to get 95% Acetic acid too.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-11-23

The sodium acetate if cooked could be added to concentrated sulfuric acid or sodium bisulfate to produce glacial acetic acid.

SydneyV2 (author)2016-06-07


Yes it can release some strong fumes but the results are worth it.

Lee budz (author)2016-02-09

Can I use flavored vinegar? Or add a 3rd component at all, eg a beer flavor or coffee

EthanJ16 (author)2016-01-31

What powder did he put it in for thr grinding

Thejesterqueen (author)2015-11-13

Nice pics and instructions, thank you for sharing. Reading the comments gave me a headache though lol.

ScleraA (author)2015-07-18

What would happen if this was smoked, mixed in with tobacco?

darnellhall (author)2015-07-11

wow never knew this was possible

seanleong88 (author)2014-12-18

Hi,can I use stove to boil the liquid instead of microwave?

shaune23 (author)seanleong882015-06-16

You shouldn't have any problem boiling it. In fact may be easier to reach the right stage while boiling. It's a matter of convenience I would suppose.

dorillo (author)2015-02-04

can we buy sodium acetate at stores?

seanleong88 (author)2014-12-18

When I let it cool on room temperature , it turns to a jellylike substance and it wouldn't dry, what should I do?

I think you've overcooked - mine still looked very liquid (not evrn mildly syruppy). I was going to give it another boiling but just tried stirring it when cooled and it instantly solidified and i could crumble it to a poweder. Have to say, if you can get it right it's fantastic if you're an s&v fan

maxine.wilde.58 (author)2015-01-07

I am amazed at how fab this is - I'm a weight watcher and have always struggled with snacks (particularly when doing the filling & healthy an) as i love anything salt and vinegar flavoured. Now i can use this 'zero-point, seasoning on popcorn, home made low fat crisps, etc -I'm gonna try it on all sorts to get my savoury fix. Well impressed! Well done and thanks for sharing

seanleong88 (author)2014-12-18

Hi,can I use stove to boil the liquid instead of microwave?

Krcstar (author)2014-10-27

This would be edible right?

mugshotremoval (author)2014-06-02

These can come in handy when camping or after a long workout. I never knew this is how it could be done.

13coolguy9 (author)2008-08-06

can u acctaly use the ice?

Dudeyowuzup (author)13coolguy92008-12-16

No, it's not real ice, it just looks like ice. It's actually just aqueous sodium acetate crystallized. Its most common use is in reusable instant hand warmers. You can easily look up "reusable instant hand warmer" online and find them. In that sense you can use it, but not as ice.

sibi5161 (author)Dudeyowuzup2009-08-07

I studied somewhere that Dry Ice is also known as carbondioxide crystals.. So, Is the fake ice formed the carbondioxide crystals???

GlueyMcGee (author)sibi51612009-08-11

not the same thing at all...touch dry ice for a minute and you will get frostbite. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide hot ice isn't.

LOL. For a minute? Touch dry ice and you get badly "burned" in seconds, if not instantly.

Was that the point of my comment? No. Even then, you are still somewhat wrong. Dry ice will cause frost-nip in seconds, where your "burning" sensation happens. Frostbite can happen in seconds (which is quite a vague measure), but it all depends on a number of factors such has how sweaty your hands are (if you touch the dry ice with your hands), etc... because water has a greater heat-capacity than your dry skin. Therefore, frostbite by dry ice could happen in a matter of seconds, or a matter of minutes. Oh, and didn't you read the following: " We have a "be nice" comment policy. Please be positive and constructive with your comments" right above the post button? You comment was offensive and definitely not constructive.

CaleByers (author)sibi51612012-05-21

Oh my gosh. What you are referring to as "hot ice" is a supersaturated solution of sodium acetate. What that means is that more of it is dissolved in water than its solubility curve allows for. Since there is extra solid dissolved, when you flex the metal plate in the pack, it causes the extra to crystalize out of solution, releasing a lot of energy.

lostinmymind (author)sibi51612009-09-28

i don't understand how you reached this conclusion, but sorry, this is different. even though this stuff is sometimes called "hot ice", it's not really ice at all. I think people call it ice because when this substance (sodium acetate), is dissolved in water, and then moved, it "freezes", or becomes solid. When it becomes solid, it looks like ice. but it's really not. Also, dry ice is really friggin cold, and this is the stuff used in hand warmers (aka, it makes things warm). i hope this answered your question.

frannyrahill (author)Dudeyowuzup2011-11-03


gelfling133 (author)13coolguy92011-11-20

nah, just fun to play with.

ksingh dhankhar (author)2012-06-20

Hi i am Kulpreet,
can i use ENO ( an ant acid) ( instead of baking soda?

You could theoretically however Eno, according to wikipedia, also contains a lot of citric acid (nearly 43% by mass). The citric acid would probably react with the sodium bicarbonate as well so you'd end up with a lot of sodium citrate (from the citric acid) rather than sodium acetate (from the acetic acid in vinegar).

ayoazorwich17 (author)2012-02-27

It would be more effective if you used Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) rather than the sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). NaOH is a strong base, so the Na+ and the OH- dissociate completely. Additionally, by using NaHCO3, you created a weak acid (H2CO3). When you use NaOH, you just get sodium acetate and water, which can be boiled off.

qdhk (author)ayoazorwich172012-07-31

NaHCO3 and NaOH both are totally separated in water : You are confusing an ions pair (Na+ and Cl-, or K+ and OH-) with an acid--base couple (H2O/OH-, or HCO3- CO3(2-) ).
The acid strenght is a measure of the ability of an acid to loose one protons (ie H+) ; conversely, the base strenght is a measure of the ability to gain a proton : OH- + H+ --> H2O.

Futhermore, the point of using baking soda IS to create H2CO3 : this acid is highly nstable and is the product of the dissolution of CO2 in water.
Actually, in water, the concentration of H2CO3 is practically negligeable because it is totally converted in HCO3- or CO2, depening on the experiment conditions :
here, by adding the baking soda to vinegar, we are combining a weak base to a weak acid : baking soda will react with acetic acid (vinegar) to yield H2CO3, wich will mostly decompose back to HCO3- : however a small percentage will turn into CO2, and this CO2, being a gas not very soluble in water, will evolve from the mixture.
As this last process is irreversible, all of the baking soda's HCO3- will turn into CO2 and will be lost from the mixture, giving a aqueous solution of only sodium acetate (abd vinegar impurities).

julsscott (author)2011-02-04

can you just buy this stuff at a store?

gelfling133 (author)julsscott2011-11-20

Which stuff? Baking soda, vinegar, coffee filters, dry ice?

gelfling133 (author)2011-11-20

Would it be reasonable to surround said coffee filter with silica gel packets, or any sort of dessicant, to aid in the drying out? Or would that screw up the process?

gelfling133 (author)gelfling1332011-11-20

Just curious, mostly because I'm horribly impatient, and partially because I hoard the crap out of dessicant packets(and tons of other random potential lab/hobby bits & pieces), and am always looking for ways to use all this....stuff, LOL.....

reaper33 (author)2011-05-11

I ever do this experiment but I used stove, not microwave. Im heat it.then after done, and i cooling. But why it didn't be solid and still be liquid. can anyone know where I wrong to do? what I must do?

zbrandon (author)reaper332011-09-18

you probably didn't let it dissolve enough

aonwuka (author)2011-08-03

everyone! this doesnt teach u how to make hot ice!IT TEACHES U HOW to make something else read!

dcardenas1 (author)2011-03-17

Do NOT use Glass Cups! D:

mstanford (author)dcardenas12011-03-19

Why not?

vnicolescu (author)2011-03-14

ahhh mine is really dark red nearly black liquid... what now?

wolfandfoxtails (author)2011-01-10

Instead of using a microwave, i used the stove, it turned out just as good as yours did. I just put it in a measuring cup when i though it was boiled long enough to see if it matched your reduced sodium acetate. Thanks for posting this

travon (author)2010-04-30

need some help for science fair project

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