Sodium sulfate: everything you need to know about this additive

Sodium sulfate or E514 is a synthetic acidity regulator used in many food products. Have you ever come across this additive on labeling? Should worry win you over? Focus on sodium sulfate.

Sodium sulfate: what are its characteristics?

It is a sodium salt of sulfuric acid (E513). It is formed by sulfate ions, sodium ions, and water molecules. It is extracted from natural deposits located in Mexico and Spain where it is obtained industrially by different manufacturing techniques, techniques in which the excess sulfuric acid is neutralized by soda from which sodium sulfate is produced.

This additive is chemically stable and heat-resistant.

Sodium sulfate is a white powder that is highly soluble in water. Hydrated, it is also called Glauber salt (mirabilite or sodium sulfate decahydrate).

Sodium sulfate: everything you need to know

ClassificationAcidity regulator
Authorized in organicNo
Special dietsDiabetic

Vegan Vegan

Sodium sulfate: what are the known risks?

Is it dangerous for health?

Sulfuric acid is a powerful acidifier. In the concentrated state, it causes burns. However, in food, it is so diluted that it is devoid of any toxicity. As a result, no ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) has been established. And this is valid for E513 (sulfuric acid), E514 (sodium sulfate), E516 (calcium sulfate), or E517 (ammonium sulfate).

In high doses, it can cause digestive disorders such as nausea or vomiting.

In its crystalline form, it is necessary to surround oneself with precautions when handling it. Indeed, sodium sulfate has a corrosive and irritating character.

Public at risk

In infants, it can change the amount of water in the body and lead to diarrhea.

In which products is it used?

It is present in many foods but not in infant food.

Main functions

Sodium sulfate is an acidity regulator. Its role is to increase the acidity of food, to give it a little tangy taste. But that’s not all. It also increases the shelf life of food and preserves its quality.

Where can we find it?

Sodium sulfate is mainly hidden in:

• Cheeses;

• Flours;

• Canned vegetables;

• Sauces;

• Candied fruit;

• Confectionery such as tart candies or fruit pastes;

• Ice cream;

• Sugary drinks;

• Alcoholic beverages.

Like any acidifier, it is recognizable by the “E5XX”.

Learn more about sodium sulfate

In the past, sodium sulfate in the form of transparent white crystals was used for its natural laxative properties. Today, it is still used in the pharmaceutical industry, with a broader focus, more precisely on drugs that treat digestive disorders. It should be noted that continuous consumption is not recommended, as it can deplete the metabolism of mineral substances, especially potassium.

Sodium sulfate is also found in cosmetics (it increases or decreases their viscosity), detergents, washing powders, cleaning products for carpets, and windows, the textile industry, the glass industry (it avoids the formation of air bubbles), the pulp industry… but also in livestock feed.

Image Credit: Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

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