The colorless, odorless crystalline salt known as sodium acetate is found in a wide range of household products, from food to clothing to cosmetics. Sodium acetate serves a number of purposes in these capacities but is mainly used to balance product acidity levels. Contact with large amounts of sodium acetate can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system, but household products contain such small amounts of the substance as to be rendered harmless.
Dairy Products, Condiments, Processed Meats, and Canned Goods
Sodium acetate is a common food additive, utilized as an anti-caking and glazing agent. It is also used to dilute other food additives.
The list of commercial food products containing sodium acetate is extensive. Dairy products that frequently contain sodium acetate include a wide range of dairy-based beverages, condensed milk, cheese (ripened, unripened, and processed), and condensed milk. Processed meats that contain sodium acetate are most often in the form of deli meats or cold cuts.
Condiments such as mustard often contain sodium acetate, as well as a number of canned legumes and mushroom products.
The cosmetics industry uses sodium acetate as a buffering and neutralizing agent, meaning specifically that it is used to maintain the desired acidity level of a particular cosmetic product. Among the many cosmetic products containing sodium acetate are facial cleansers and moisturizers, facial powders, sunless tanners, and anti-aging creams. Toiletries such as soap also frequently contain sodium acetate.
Textile industries use sodium acetate to help keep dyed material from fading because of chemical reactions. A substance that reacts with dye in this manner is known as a mordant. Sodium acetate also helps lengthen the lifespan of textiles by dissolving calcium salts within a fabric, which can lead to the eventual breakdown of the cloth.
Sodium acetate is also used in hide tanning to promote the absorption of tanning material into a hide being treated. Any leather products you own--whether in the form of clothing or furniture upholstery--most likely contain sodium acetate.