Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate
Sodium benzoate
CAS number 532-32-1 YesY
PubChem 517055
ChemSpider 10305 YesY
RTECS number DH6650000
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Molecular formula NaC6H5CO2
Molar mass 144.11 g/mol
Density 1.497 g/cm3
Melting point

300 °C (572°F)

Solubility in water soluble
Solubility soluble in ethanol
Acidity (pKa) 8.0
Flash point 100 °C
500 °C
LD50 4100 mg/kg (oral, rat)
 YesY benzoate (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

Sodium benzoate has the chemical formula NaC6H5CO2; it is a widely used food preservative, with E number E211. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and exists in this form when dissolved in water. It can be produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid.



Sodium benzoate is a preservative. It is bacteriostatic and fungistatic under acidic conditions. It is most widely used in acidic foods such as salad dressings (vinegar), carbonated drinks (carbonic acid), jams and fruit juices (citric acid), pickles (vinegar), and condiments. It is also used as a preservative in medicines and cosmetics.[1][2] As a food additive, sodium benzoate has the E number E211.

It 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. The fuel is also one of the fastest burning rocket fuels and provides a lot of thrust and smoke. It does have its downsides: there is a high danger of explosion when the fuel is sharply compressed because of the fuel's sensitivity to impact.

Sodium benzoate is produced by the neutralization of benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide.[3] Benzoic acid is detectable at low levels in cranberries, prunes, greengage plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and apples. Though benzoic acid is a more effective preservative, sodium benzoate is more commonly used as a food additive because benzoic acid does not dissolve well in water.[3] Concentration as a preservative is limited by the FDA in the U.S. to 0.1% by weight. The International Programme on Chemical Safety found no adverse effects in humans at doses of 647–825 mg/kg of body weight per day.[4][5]

Cats have a significantly lower tolerance against benzoic acid and its salts than rats and mice.[6] Sodium benzoate is, however, allowed as an animal food additive at up to 0.1%, according to AFCO's official publication.[7]

Mechanism of food preservation

The mechanism starts with the absorption of benzoic acid into the cell. If the Intracellular pH changes to 5 or lower, the anaerobic fermentation of glucose through phosphofructokinase is decreased by 95%,[8] thereby inhibiting the growth and survival of micro-organisms causing food spoilage.

Safety and health

In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate form benzene, a known carcinogen. However, in most beverages that contain both, the benzene levels are below those considered dangerous for consumption.[9] Heat, light and shelf life can affect the rate at which benzene is formed.

Professor Peter W. Piper of the University of Sheffield claims that sodium benzoate by itself can damage and inactivate vital parts of DNA in a cell's mitochondria. Mitochondria consume oxygen to generate ATP, the body's energy currency. If they are damaged due to disease, the cell malfunctions and may enter apoptosis.


Research published in 2007 for the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that certain artificial colours, when paired with sodium benzoate (E211) may be linked to hyperactive behaviour. The results were inconsistent regarding sodium benzoate, so the FSA recommended further study.[10][11][12]

Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, and author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children. However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."[12]

Two mixtures of additives were tested in the research:[12]

Mix A:

  • Sunset yellow (E110)
  • Tartrazine (E102)
  • Carmoisine (E122)
  • Ponceau 4R (E124)
  • Sodium benzoate (E211)

Mix B:

  • Sunset yellow (E110)
  • Quinoline yellow (E104)
  • Carmoisine (E122)
  • Allura red (E129)
  • Sodium benzoate (E211)

Sodium benzoate was included in both mixes, but the effects observed were not consistent. The Food Standards Agency therefore considers that, if real, the observed increases in hyperactive behaviour were more likely to be linked to one or more of the specific colours tested.

On 10 April 2008, the Foods Standard Agency called for a voluntary removal of the colours (but not sodium benzoate) by 2009.[13] In addition, it recommended that there should be action to phase them out in food and drink in the European Union (EU) over a specified period.[14]

In response to consumer insistence on a more natural product and E211's links to DNA damage and ADHD, the Coca Cola Company is in the process of phasing Sodium Benzoate out of Diet Coke. The company has stated that it plans to remove E211 from its other products — including Sprite, Fanta, and Oasis — as soon as a satisfactory alternative is discovered.[15]

Compendial status

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sodium benzoate in Robitussin cough
  4. ^ Concise International Chemical Assessment Document 26: Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate
  5. ^ Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel Bindu Nair (2001). "Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, and Sodium Benzoate". Int J Tox 20 (Suppl 3): 23–50. doi:10.1080/10915810152630729. PMID 11766131. 
  6. ^ Bedford PG, Clarke EG (January 1972). "Experimental benzoic acid poisoning in the cat". Vet. Rec. 90 (3): 53–8. doi:10.1136/vr.90.3.53. PMID 4672555. 
  7. ^ AFCO (2004). Official Publication. p. 262. 
  8. ^ Krebs HA, Wiggins D, Stubbs M, Sols A, Bedoya F (September 1983). "Studies on the mechanism of the antifungal action of benzoate". Biochem. J. 214 (3): 657–63. PMC 1152300. PMID 6226283. 
  9. ^ FDA, 2006. "Data on Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages, " United States Food and Drug Administration.
  10. ^ Food Standards Agency issues revised advice on certain artificial colours 6 September 2007
  11. ^ Food Colorings and Hyperactivity "Myomancy" 7 September 2007
  12. ^ a b c Agency revises advice on certain artificial colours Food Standards Agency 11 September 2007
  13. ^ BBC Europe-wide food colour ban call 10 April 2008
  14. ^ FSA Board discusses colours advice 10 April 2008
  15. ^ The Daily Mail DNA Damage Fear 24 May 2008
  16. ^ a b c Sigma Aldrich. "Sodium benzoate". Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  17. ^ Therapeutic Goods Administration. "Chemical Substances" (PDF). Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  18. ^ British Pharmacopoeia Commission Secretariat. "Index (BP)". Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  19. ^ "Japanese Pharmacopoeia 15th Edition". Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  20. ^ The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. "Revisions to USP 29–NF 24". Retrieved 17 July 2009. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • sodium benzoate — n a crystalline or granular salt C7H5O2Na used chiefly as a food preservative * * * [NF] the sodium salt of benzoic acid, C7H5NaO2, used as an antifungal preservative in pharmaceutical preparations and foods. It may also be used as a test for… …   Medical dictionary

  • sodium benzoate — n. a sweet, odorless, white powder, C6H5COONa, the sodium salt of benzoic acid, used as a food preservative, antiseptic, etc …   English World dictionary

  • sodium benzoate — noun a white crystalline salt used as a food preservative and antiseptic • Syn: ↑benzoate of soda • Hypernyms: ↑benzoate * * * noun : a crystalline or granular salt C6H5COONa used chiefly as a food preservative * * * Chem., Pharm. a white,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • sodium benzoate — Chem., Pharm. a white, crystalline or granular, water soluble powder, C7H5NaO2, used chiefly as a food preservative and antifungal agent, and in diagnostic tests of liver function. Also called benzoate of soda. [1895 1900] * * * …   Universalium

  • sodium benzoate — noun The sodium salt of benzoic acid. Syn: E211, preservative …   Wiktionary

  • sodium benzoate — noun Date: circa 1900 a crystalline or granular salt C7H5O2Na used chiefly as a food preservative …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Sodium benzoate — Бензоат натрия Систематическое название Натрия бензоат Другие названия E211, бензойнокислый натрий Химическая формула NaC6H5CO2 Молекулярная масса …   Википедия

  • sodium benzoate — so′dium ben′zoate n. chem. pha a white, water soluble powder, C7H5NaO2, used chiefly as a food preservative • Etymology: 1895–1900 …   From formal English to slang

  • Benzoate De Sodium — Général Nom IUPAC benzoate de sodium Synonymes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Benzoate de sodium — Général Nom IUPAC benzoate de sodium Synonymes …   Wikipédia en Français

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