Crystallography365

Blogging a crystal structure a day in 2014

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Contributed by

Helen Maynard-Casely

Sodium acetate

What does it look like?

Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructural analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

What is it?

If it looks very similar to yesterday's structure … then there's a good reason for that! One of the building blocks of this material is the acetic acid unit. In fact this is the salt formed when acetic acid and sodium are mixed. Sodium acetate is commonly used as a food preservative, often to regulate acidity in everything from fruits to fish. In can often be used as the 'tang' in salt and vinegar crisps.

When more concentrated can form a rather interesting science demo known as 'hot ice':

Where did the structure come from?

The structure we've presented is, in fact, sodium acetate trihydrate, which is what is being formed in the demo video. Its structure was determined in 1975 by Cameron et al.

Tags: acid   food   additive