I tried to make sodium acetate.


  • Store bought vinegar - 8% acetic acid, water, E150C (caramel)
  • Baking soda - $\ce{NaHCO_3}$


  1. I first emptied sacks of baking soda to a container
  2. I kept adding vinegar until the resulting fuming was mild
  3. I started heating the solution slowly, I kept adding more vinegar as long as I could see bubbly reaction
  4. I increased heat until all water evaporated. I was left with white-brown chunks of (presumably) sodium acetate and the impurities from vinegar
  5. I kept heating this until it melted into opaque black liquid
  6. I poured the hot molten stuff into ceramic bowl

This is my result:

enter image description here

I might upload better picture tomorrow, when there's more light available.

So, this does not really look as sodium acetate at all. It looks like a volcano. Clearly there's more volcano-ish experiments with vinegar than I thought.

How do I purify this? Is there even any sodium acetate? Could I burn (decompose) it or something?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You don't want to purify this. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Could you elaborate? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 22:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And maybe remove this picture, my poor eyes! ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 23:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Question isn't bad, but you had pretty much no idea what happened. TL:DR You used vinegar like it was chemical grade not food grade. Caramel made your product a black unholy abomination of science ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 0:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I had no idea, that's why I asked question, hoping to figure out what went wrong exactly. But yeah I understand now - it's not the first downvote I got for having absolutely no clue about the topic I'm asking about. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 0:53

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't bother trying to purify it. As Mithoron said in his legendary comment "Caramel made your product a black unholy abomination of science". I would have distilled the vinegar and diluted it (because concentrated acetic acid is a bit dangerous if you don't know what you're doing) and start again. If you want pure product, make sure your starting materials aren't filled with "unholy abomination of science" causing impurities. If you really want to purify it, maybe recrystallise it in hot water? Or a solvent that sodium acetate can become saturated in.

  • $\begingroup$ I did dissolve it and filter it and it looks better. The thing is I made sodium acetate with the purpose of making concentrated acetic acid through redox reactions. So if I just distill the vinegar, it kinda ruins the purpose of the experiment - I could just as well buy the acid from some e-shop. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Good point. Has the caramel colour disappeared? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ It was reduced, but when I dried it again, it is still pretty black. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried dissolving the sodium acetate in alcohol? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ That's a great idea! Will try it! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 9:26

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