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CAS Number: 532-32-1 

E number: E211 (preservatives)

Chemical formula: C7H5NaO2

Molar mass: 144.105 g·mol−1

Appearance: white or colorless crystalline powder

Odor: odorless

Density: 1.497 g/cm3

Melting point: 410 °C (770 °F; 683 K)

Solubility in water: 62.65 g/100 mL (0 °C)
62.84 g/100 mL (15 °C)
62.87 g/100 mL (30 °C)
74.2 g/100 mL (100 °C)

Solubility: soluble in liquid ammonia, pyridine

Solubility in methanol: 8.22 g/100 g (15 °C)
7.55 g/100 g (66.2 °C)

Solubility in ethanol: 2.3 g/100 g (25 °C)
8.3 g/100 g (78 °C)

Solubility in 1,4-Dioxane: 0.818 mg/kg (25 °C)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical salt. Sodium benzoate is obtained by neutralizing benzoic acid with sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide.

Sodium benzoate is not pure in nature, but the benzoic acid from which it is derived is naturally present in many animals and plants and is produced from them. Available in white and solid form.

Sodium benzoate loses its activity when the pH value exceeds 5.0.

Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative against mold and yeast in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. 

When sodium benzoate is used in the food sector, it is widely used in carbonated drinks and similar soft drinks, pickles, ketchup, and similar preparations in foods such as marmalade jam, and in sugar production in olives. 

The use of sodium benzoate is generally in the range of 0.1–0.2%. 

Sodium Benzoate is a commonly used preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in fruits like cranberries, plums, and apples. Sodium benzoate appears as a white, odorless crystalline powder or granules. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it helps prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and yeast, thus extending the shelf life of cosmetic products. Its natural origin and effectiveness in preservation make sodium benzoate a popular choice in various personal care products like lotions, creams, shampoos, and makeup items, ensuring their safety and longevity. The chemical formula of Sodium Benzoate is C7H5NaO2.

Production of Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is commonly produced by the neutralization of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with benzoic acid (C6H5COOH), which is itself produced commercially by partial oxidation of toluene with oxygen.

Uses of Sodium Benzoate as a Preservative

Foods and Beverages

Sodium benzoate is as a food preservative. 

Sodium benzoate is most widely used in acidic foods such as salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams and fruit juices (citric acid), pickles, condiments, and frozen yogurt toppings. 

Sodium benzoate is also used as a preservative in medicines and cosmetics.

Under these conditions, Sodium benzoate is converted into benzoic acid (E210), which is bacteriostatic and fungistatic. Benzoic acid is generally not used directly due to its poor water solubility. Concentration as a food preservative is limited by the FDA in the U.S. to 0.1% by weight.

Sodium benzoate is also allowed as an animal food additive at up to 0.1%, per the Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Sodium benzoate has been replaced by potassium sorbate in the majority of soft drinks in the United Kingdom.

Sodium benzoate is the first preservative the FDA allowed in foods and is still a widely used food additive. 
It’s classified as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), meaning that experts consider it safe when used as intended.

It’s approved internationally as a food additive and is assigned the identifying number 211. 
For example, it’s listed as E211 in European food products.

Sodium benzoate inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, mold, and other microbes in food, thus deterring spoilage. 
It’s particularly effective in acidic foods.

Therefore, it’s commonly used in foods, such as soda, bottled lemon juice, pickles, jelly, salad dressing, soy sauce, and other condiments.

Similar to other preservatives, sodium benzoate can be mixed in the baked good formula or can be dusted onto the surface. P
Permitted usage levels of in-food products are:

Product Recommended Level
Carbonated beverages: 0.02%
Prevents yeast spoilage
In presence of ascorbic acid and metal ions, may produce benzene in ppb concentration

Fruit juices: 0.05 – 0.1 %
Protects against mold and fermentation.
Usage with sulfur dioxide or other antioxidants increases the antioxidation effect.

Ineffective against oxidation and enzymatic spoilage
Pickles and sauerkraut: 0.1%
Highly effective at prevailing low pH
Risk of impairing the flavor

Mayonnaise: 0.05 – 0.1%
Imparts a stronger anti-bacterial effect when combined with potassium sorbate.
Risk of impairing product sensory properties

Baked goods: 0.1%
Low water activity and a pH of 4.5 presents the optimal antimicrobial effect.
At high water activity (>0.8) only limited antimicrobial effect.

White layer cake: 0.1%
At pH value of 6.4 presents the highest antimicrobial and antifungal effect in comparison with nisin and sulfite.
May slightly decrease cake volume.

Sodium Benzoate can be found in the following foods and beverages:

canned fruit and fish,
sweet fruit drinks,
salad dressings,
carbonated drinks,

Sodium benzoate is used as a preservative in some over-the-counter and prescription medications, particularly in liquid medicines like cough syrup.

Additionally, it can be a lubricant in pill manufacturing and makes tablets transparent and smooth, helping them break down rapidly after you swallow them.

Lastly, larger amounts of sodium benzoate may be prescribed to treat elevated blood levels of ammonia. Ammonia is a byproduct of protein breakdown, and blood levels may become dangerously high in certain medical conditions.

Sodium benzoate is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care items, such as hair products, baby wipes, toothpaste, and mouthwash.

Sodium benzoate also has industrial uses. One of its biggest applications is to deter corrosion, such as in coolants for car engines.

Sodium benzoate may be used as a stabilizer in photo processing and to improve the strength of some types of plastic.

Sodium benzoate can be found in face and body washes, lotions, creams, cleansing products, hair care products, eye creams, baby creams and oral hygiene products. Sodium Benzoate can also be added to natural cosmetics.

Depending on the type of product, different concentrations of Sodium Benzoate are used.  

In products that are rinsed with water, Sodium benzoate reaches a concentration of 2.5%, in those that are not rinsed – 0.5%. On the other hand, all oral care products may contain 1.7% Sodium Benzoate.

Sodium benzoate in cosmetics is also safe. 

However, Sodium benzoate should not be mixed with Vitamin C, which is contained in various types of skin care products, because such a mixture produces benzene, which is considered a toxic compound.

Another problem occurs when sodium benzoate is used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or erythorbic acid (also known as d-ascorbic acid). The two substances, in an acidic solution, can react together to form small amounts of benzene

In pharmaceuticals
Sodium benzoate is used as a treatment for urea cycle disorders due to its ability to bind amino acids.

This leads to excretion of these amino acids and a decrease in ammonia levels. 

Recent research shows that sodium benzoate may be beneficial as an add-on therapy (1 gram/day) in schizophrenia.

Total Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores dropped by 21% compared to placebo.

Sodium benzoate, along with phenylbutyrate, is used to treat hyperammonemia.

Sodium benzoate, along with caffeine, is used to treat post-dural puncture headaches, respiratory depression associated with overdosage of narcotics, and ergotamine to treat vascular headaches.

Other uses of Sodium Benzoate:
Sodium benzoate is also used in fireworks as a fuel in whistle mix, a powder that emits a whistling noise when compressed into a tube and ignited.

Mechanism of food preservation
The mechanism starts with the absorption of benzoic acid into the cell. 

If the intracellular pH falls to 5 or lower, the anaerobic fermentation of glucose through phosphofructokinase decreases sharply, which inhibits the growth and survival of microorganisms that cause food spoilage.

Sodium benzoate, which is immiscible with silicone, can be incorporated into silicone in the form of small aggregates.

In the pharmaceutical industry, Sodium Benzoate is used as a preservative in some over-the-counter and prescription drugs, especially syrups. 

It also makes tablets transparent and smooth, so they disintegrate more quickly after swallowing. 

In addition, Sodium Benzoate finds its uses in medicine – it has an expectorant and disinfectant effect and is used for inflammation and bronchial dilation, as well as stomatitis of bacterial origin. 

A combination of Caffeine and Sodium Benzoate has analgesic and antipyretic effects and is therefore used in painkillers. 

Sodium Benzoate also prevents corrosion in storage fluids for surgical instruments. Sometimes Sodium Benzoate is used as an ingredient in disinfectants.

Sodium Benzoate is also used in pyrotechnics. Sodium Benzoate is involved in the manufacture of fireworks, as a fuel in whistle mix. 

Sodium Benzoate can also act as an anticorrosive, is an additive to paints and coatings, and is an ingredient in adhesives, lubricants, antifreeze, sealants, and other car care products.

Health and Safety

1909 Heinz advertisement against sodium benzoate
In the United States, sodium benzoate is designated as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration.[21] The International Programme on Chemical Safety found no adverse effects in humans at doses of 647–825 mg/kg of body weight per day.

Cats have a significantly lower tolerance to benzoic acid and its salts than rats and mice.

The human body rapidly clears sodium benzoate by combining it with glycine to form hippuric acid which is then excreted.

The metabolic pathway for this begins with the conversion of benzoate by butyrate-CoA ligase into an intermediate product, benzoyl-CoA, which is then metabolized by glycine N-acyltransferase into hippuric acid.

Sodium benzoate, sodium and calcium propionate, sorbic acid, ethyl formate, and sulfur dioxide are examples of commercially used food preservatives.

Preservatives such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate salts have often been implemented in commercial juice production systems in order to control microbial contamination and to achieve an extended shelf life for fruit and vegetable juice products

Association with benzene in soft drinks & pepper sauces
Main article: Benzene in soft drinks
In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate may form benzene. 
In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration tested 100 beverages available in the United States that contained both ascorbic acid and benzoate. Four had benzene levels that were above the 5 ppb Maximum Contaminant Level set by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water.

Most of the beverages that tested above the limit have been reformulated and subsequently tested below the safety limit.

Heat, light, and shelf life can increase the rate at which benzene is formed. 

Hot peppers naturally contain vitamin C so the observation about beverages applies to pepper sauces containing sodium benzoate

Restriction in Europe: V/1
The maximum permitted concentration in the finished preparations is :
- 2.5% (in acid) for rinsed products, except for oral products
- 1.7% (in acid) for oral products
- 0,5 % (in acid) for non-rinsed products


Calcium Propionate
Citric Acid
Ethyl Formate
Sodium Benzoate
Sodium Nitrite
Sodium Propionate
Sorbic Acid
Vitamin E

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