What Is the Usage of Sodium Tripolyphosphate?

By Hunkar Ozyasar; Updated April 25, 2017
Sodium tripolyphosphate is widely used in chemical and industrial applications.

Sodium tripolyphosphate, also known as pentasodium triphosphate, pentasodium tripolyphosphate or sodium triphosphate, is used in a wide range of applications in the manufacture of cleaning products and food preservatives as well as in water treatment facilities.

Manufacture

Sodium tripolyphosphate is a sodium salt of triphosphoric acid. It is manufactured in chemical laboratories by mixing disodium phosphate and monosodium phosphate.

A Powerful Cleaning Agent

Sodium tripolyphosphate is used in a variety of cleaning products. It improves the ability of various ingredients in the detergent to penetrate the fibers of clothes (as well as other surfaces and materials to be cleaned) more deeply, and aids in foaming and bubbling. Therefore, most chemical plants that make sodium tripolyphosphate list "detergents" as the primary area of use for this chemical.

Food Additive

Sodium tripolyphosphate also gives a fresh appearance to meat and seafood while slowing down spoilage. The chemical helps to preserve the natural color of meat and fish and improves their texture. This is done by improving the water-holding capacity of animal products and consequently slowing down their drying

Tanning Agent for Leather

Sodium tripolyphosphate is listed as a tanning agent for leather. Interestingly, the chemical is also used as an oil contamination resistance agent in paper production. So, it can both help manufacturers apply the right color to a medium as well as keep unwanted color away.

Other Uses

Other uses of sodium tripolyphosphate include petroleum refining, metallurgy, mine applications and water treatment. The last application is made possible by its pH buffering ability, meaning that it can "soften" acidic water by neutralizing its acidity. This quality is one of the reasons it is added to detergents.

About the Author

Hunkar Ozyasar is the former high-yield bond strategist for Deutsche Bank. He has been quoted in publications including "Financial Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." His book, "When Time Management Fails," is published in 12 countries while Ozyasar’s finance articles are featured on Nikkei, Japan’s premier financial news service. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School.