How to Make Sodium Acetate From Household Ingredients

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Introduction: 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

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

Step 2: Chemical Reaction

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

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

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

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

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.

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    292 Comments

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

    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.

    Sam,

    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.

    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.

    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.

    005.jpg

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

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

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

    http://youtu.be/nIaW5MYn7Xw

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

    What powder did he put it in for thr grinding

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

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

    wow never knew this was possible

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

    1 reply

    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.

    can we buy sodium acetate at stores?

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

    1 reply

    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