How to Identify Sodium Acetate

Things You'll Need

  • Saucepan
  • Heating source
  • Plastic container
  • Ice water


  • Be sure to remove heated sodium acetate from its source just as the crusty film begins forming, or it may not react with solid sodium acetate.


  • Ingesting, inhaling or coming into contact with the solution can cause irritation, nausea and other adverse effects.

Sodium acetate is a common compound that can be identified quickly with your senses. It is rarely harmful and not fatal to come into contact with, but some precaution is necessary to assure that no irritation or other adverse effects occur.

    Inspect the compound; sodium acetate is colorless, crystalline and efflorescent. It looks similar to table salt.

    Smell the compound; sodium acetate smells like acetic acid, which gives vinegar its trademark scent, though sodium acetate is not nearly so pungent.

    Test the compound chemically. Heat the sodium acetate to 137 degrees Fahrenheit until the solid crystals become a liquid and a crusty film begins to appear. Remove the solution and place it in a plastic container. Then place the container into ice-water. Wait 10 minutes and then add more sodium acetate. It will immediately begin to harden and become similar to ice, though it will let off heat.

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