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.