# Decomposition products of sodium acetate

I heated some sodium acetate to a high temperature (about 500 degrees celsius). Upon doing so, I could smell an irritating smell reminiscent of vinegar. I stopped then, assuming they were acetic acid vapors. Are they really acetic acid vapours, and if so, what is the remaining solid?

• A cursory Google search for the SDS for sodium acetate indicates that thermal decomposition can yield carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sodium oxide. On the way to 500 $^{\circ}$C, acetic acid vapors are certainly released. Your solid might be $\ce{Na_{2}O}$. – Todd Minehardt May 8 '16 at 15:48

## 3 Answers

The fumes are likely to be acetic anhydride, as per this equation: $$\ce{2CH3COONa -> Na2O + (CH3CO)2O}$$ This smells like vinegar, and reacts with moisture in the air to give acetic acid.

This link states that sodium acetate decomposes on heating to produce a white solid i.e sodium oxide, $\ce{Na2O}$.

The wikipedia link of sodium acetate and this link states that sodium acetate decomposes on heating to produce acetic acid fumes which have a strong vinegar like smell.

I did some heating of Sodium acetate myself. It melted down into a black boiling tar, which caught on fire. This tar cooled solidified and then would not remelt as easily, and i ended up melting my test tube instead. However, I think that the decomposition of Sodium Acetate actually yields acetone vapors and Sodium Carbonate, (or Bicarbonate I haven't worked out the equation yet.) I think this follows the thermal decomposition of Calcium Acetate, which is known to make acetone.

Edit. I threw a piece of aluminum foil, causing plastic wrap would melt. no liquid re condensed, meaning no acetone. Okay, my end product looked metally.... and since Na2O melts stupidly higher than Na metal... I think I'm wrong.

I think I stopped my heating early and got it reheating... it is melting again. By the way I'm doing this on my stove, so who knows what I get out of that. My torch is broken.