Trisodium phosphate

Trisodium phosphate
Trisodium phosphate[1]
CAS number 7601-54-9 YesY
10101-89-0 (dodecahydrate)
PubChem 166757
ChemSpider 22665 YesY
EC number 231-509-8
KEGG D09000 YesY
RTECS number TC9575000
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula Na3PO4
Molar mass 163.94 g/mol
Density 1.620 g/cm3 (dodecahydrate)
Melting point

73.5 °C decomp. (dodecahydrate)

Solubility in water 1.5 g/100 mL (0 °C)
8.8 g/100 mL (25 °C)
Basicity (pKb) 2.23
Crystal structure Trigonal
EU Index Not listed
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point Non-flammable
Related compounds
Related compounds Monosodium phosphate
Disodium phosphate
Tripotassium phosphate
 YesY (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Trisodium phosphate (TSP, E339) is a cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution. The item of commerce is often partially hydrated and may range from anhydrous trisodium phosphate, Na3PO4, to the dodecahydrate, Na3PO4·12H2O. Most often found in white powder form, it can also be called trisodium orthophosphate or just plain sodium phosphate. Trisodium phosphate was at one time extensively used in formulations for a wide variety of consumer grade soaps and detergents, but ecological problems have largely ended that practice, at least in the western world. Substitutes are not as effective, but the raw chemical can be bought in bulk to add to underpowered detergents.[2]




The major use for trisodium phosphate is in cleaning agents. The pH of a 1% solution is 12, and the solution is sufficiently alkaline to saponify grease and oils. In combination with surfactants, TSP is an excellent agent for cleaning everything from laundry to concrete driveways. This versatility and low manufacturing price, made TSP the preferred basis for a plethora of cleaning products sold in the mid-20th century. TSP is still sold, and used, as a cleaning agent, but during the late 1960s in the United States,[citation needed] government regulators in seventeen states determined that overuse led to a series of ecological problems.[3]

By the end of the 20th century, many products that formerly contained TSP were manufactured with TSP Substitutes, which consist mainly of sodium carbonate along with various admixtures of nonionic surfactants and a limited percentage of sodium phosphates.

TSP is commonly used after cleaning with mineral spirits in order to remove hydrocarbon residues.[citation needed] TSP may be used with household chlorine bleach in the same solution without hazardous reactions.[4] This mixture is particularly good for removing mildew.

Although it is still the active ingredient in some toilet bowl cleaning tablets, TSP is generally not good for cleaning bathrooms, because it can stain metal and can damage grout.[5]


In the United States, trisodium phosphate is an approved flux for use in hard soldering joints in medical grade copper plumbing. The flux is applied as a concentrated water solution and dissolves copper oxides at the temperature used in copper brazing. Residues are fully water soluble and can be rinsed out of plumbing before it is put in service.

TSP is used as an ingredient in fluxes designed to deoxygenate nonferrous metals for casting.

TSP can be used in ceramic production to lower the flow point of glazes.

Painting enhancement

TSP is still in common use for the cleaning, degreasing and deglossing of walls prior to painting. TSP breaks the gloss of oil based paints and opens the pores of latex based paint providing a surface better suited for the adhesion of the subsequent layer of paint.[6][unreliable source?]

Food additive

Trisodium phosphate is approved as a food additive in the EU[7] and other countries. It has the E number E339 and is used as an acidity regulator in a variety of food products.

Exercise performance enhancement

TSP has gained a following as a nutritional supplement that can improve certain parameters of exercise performance.[8] The basis of this belief is the fact that phosphate is required for the energy-producing Krebs cycle central to aerobic metabolism. Phosphates are available from a number of other sources that are much milder than TSP. While trisodium phosphate is not toxic per se, it is severely irritating to gastric mucosa unless used as part of a buffered solution. Studies have shown that loading with TSP may increase an athlete's VO2 Max as well as reducing the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.[citation needed] Dosing is typically 3-4 grammes per day for three days prior to competition.

TSP Substitutes

Products sold as TSP substitute, containing soda ash and zeolites, are promoted as a direct substitute. However, sodium carbonate is not as strongly basic as trisodium phosphate, making it less effective in demanding applications. Zeolites are added to laundry detergents as bulking agents that rapidly break down in water and are essentially nonpolluting. Even cleaning products labeled as TSP may contain other ingredients as well, and may, in fact, be less than half trisodium phosphate.[9]


Many similar chemicals, including trisodium phosphate, are included in the umbrella term, phosphates. Many phosphates are used as cleaners, pH buffers, surfactants, detergents, food-grade acidifiers, emulsifiers, and food preservatives. Some phosphates which are similar to TSP include:

  • Sodium triphosphate, a water softener used in dishwashing detergent and a food preservative.
  • Sodium dihydrogen phosphate, commonly termed monosodium phosphate, (NaH2PO4), is a laxative a pH buffer
  • Disodium hydrogen phosphate, commonly termed disodium phosphate, (Na2HPO4), is a laxative and anti-caking agent used in food.
  • Sodium aluminium phosphate, (Na8Al2(OH)2(PO4)4) is a pH buffer and an emulsifying agent used in food.[10]


  1. ^ Merck Index, 12th Edition, 8808.
  2. ^ Hotton, Peter (26 August 2010). "Handyman on Call". The Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ Dishes Still Dirty? Blame Phosphate-Free Detergent, National Public Radio, December 15, 2010
  4. ^ Home Improvement — General — House siding,
  5. ^ "TSP ... Cleaning for the Big Dogs". Home Repair and Do It Yourself Tips and Articles from the Natural Handyman. Natural Handyman. 
  6. ^ "?". 
  7. ^ Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers, Food Standards Agency, 26 November 2010
  8. ^ Folland JP et al. (2008). "Sodium phosphate loading improves laboratory cycling time-trial performance in trained cyclists.". Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 11 (5): 464–468. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2007.04.004. PMID 17569583. 
  9. ^ MSDS for Dap TSP cleaner
  10. ^ Bell, Russel N (1973), "SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE CHEESE EMULSIFYING AGENT", US Patent 3726960, April 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • trisodium phosphate — noun the tertiary phosphate of sodium used as a builder in soaps and detergents • Syn: ↑trisodium orthophosphate, ↑tribasic sodium phosphate • Hypernyms: ↑builder, ↑detergent builder * * * noun : so …   Useful english dictionary

  • trisodium phosphate — Chem. See sodium phosphate (def. 3). [1920 25] * * * …   Universalium

  • trisodium phosphate — noun Date: 1923 a crystalline compound Na3PO4 that is used especially in cleaning compositions …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • trisodium orthophosphate — noun the tertiary phosphate of sodium used as a builder in soaps and detergents (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑trisodium phosphate, ↑tribasic sodium phosphate • Hypernyms: ↑builder, ↑detergent builder …   Useful english dictionary

  • Phosphate de sodium — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Phosphate de sodium (homonymie). Phosphate de sodium …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Phosphate — A form of phosphoric acid. Calcium phosphate makes bones and teeth hard. * * * 1. A salt or ester of phosphoric acid. For individual phosphates not listed here, see under the name of the base. 2. The trivalent ion, PO43−. bone p. SYN: tribasic… …   Medical dictionary

  • Disodium phosphate — IUPAC name Sodium hydrogen phosphate …   Wikipedia

  • tribasic sodium phosphate — noun the tertiary phosphate of sodium used as a builder in soaps and detergents • Syn: ↑trisodium phosphate, ↑trisodium orthophosphate • Hypernyms: ↑builder, ↑detergent builder * * * noun see sodium phosphate …   Useful english dictionary

  • Monosodium phosphate — Monosodium phosphate …   Wikipedia

  • sodium phosphate — Chem. 1. Also called monobasic sodium phosphate. a white, crystalline, slightly hygroscopic, water soluble powder, NaH2PO4, used chiefly in dyeing and in electroplating. 2. Also called dibasic sodium phosphate, disodium phosphate. a water soluble …   Universalium

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