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What is Sodium Benzoate ?

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-12-15      Origin: Site

What is Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a food preservative that occurs naturally in some fruits. The chemical is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and is considered safe to ingest and apply to the skin. It should not be used in certain acidic products because it may combine to form harmful compounds, but it is not toxic and does not irritate tissue. It dissolves readily in water, and its primary use is to inhibit the growth of molds and bacteria in food and cosmetics.


While sodium benzoate is a manmade substance that does not occur naturally, benzoic acid is found in many fruits and plants, including apples, plums, berries, cinnamon, and tomatoes. Additionally, certain bacteria produce benzoic acid, most commonly found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt.


When purchasing sodium benzoate as a food, beverage, and personal care product preservative, it is an odorless, white, crystalline powder made by combining benzoic acid and sodium hydroxide. The addition of sodium hydroxide gives benzoic acid better dissolvability.


Where Is Sodium Benzoate Found

Sodium benzoate keeps molds and bacteria from growing in food and cosmetics. It is found in many fruit drinks, in salad dressings and oils, and in jams. Cosmetic manufacturers use it in skin creams and other cosmetics to keep them fresh. It is found naturally in fruits such as plums and cranberries and in spices such as cinnamon. Use of the chemical is widespread because it is inexpensive and because small concentrations, typically 0.05 - 0.1 percent, are effective.

In solution, the benzoic acid ion is the active ingredient and acts directly on micro-organisms to limit their activity. When used in certain foods such as acid citrus drinks, the sodium benzoate may react with the other acids such as citric or ascorbic acids to form benzene, a potential carcinogenic compound. Because the levels of sodium benzoate in most foods are so low, the corresponding concentration of benzene will also be below dangerous levels. In general, sodium benzoate is a safe, common, inexpensive and effective food additive with possibly some restrictions for a high consumption of certain acid foods.

Sodium Benzoate Uses

A very widely-used preservative, sodium benzoate is used throughout various industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and industrial.

As a food additive, sodium benzoate was the first preservative allowed in foods by the FDA. Today, it is classified as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), meaning experts consider it safe when used as it’s intended. It is internationally approved as a food preservative and is identified by the number 211 (listed as E211 in Europe).

It functions as a preservative by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, mold, and other microbes, preventing product spoilage. It’s also used to preserve over-the-counter medications such as cough syrup and as a lubricant in pill manufacturing.


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