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. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Apr 10 '18 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Could you elaborate? $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Apr 10 '18 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ And maybe remove this picture, my poor eyes! ;) $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Apr 10 '18 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ 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 Apr 11 '18 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Apr 11 '18 at 0:53

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. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Apr 12 '18 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Good point. Has the caramel colour disappeared? $\endgroup$ – David Wyn Williams Apr 12 '18 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ It was reduced, but when I dried it again, it is still pretty black. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Apr 12 '18 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried dissolving the sodium acetate in alcohol? $\endgroup$ – David Wyn Williams Apr 13 '18 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ That's a great idea! Will try it! $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 '18 at 9:26

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