Trisodium Citrate – an overview. What is Trisodium Citrate Dihydrate used for?

Joanna Sikorska
7 min reading
Trisodium Citrate – an overview. What is Trisodium Citrate Dihydrate used for?
Table of contents
  • Trisodium citrate is the sodium salt of Citric Acid.
  • Because it is similar to Citric Acid, it is mainly used in the food industry.
  • It is also used in medicine.

What is Trisodium Citrate?

Trisodium Citrate is a chemical compound, the sodium salt of Citric Acid. It is obtained by reacting Citric Acid with sodium hydroxide, carbonate, or bicarbonate and then crystallized and dehydrated. It also occurs naturally in citrus fruits. Trisodium Citrate is commonly referred to as ‘Sodium Citrate’, but this term is ambiguous as it can also refer to the sodium or monosodium salt.

Trisodium Citrate is structured in such a way that a sodium atom is attached to each of the three carboxyl groups present. Similarly, Monosodium Citrate is a chemical compound with one sodium in the molecule and Disodium Citrate is a chemical compound with two sodium atoms.

Trisodium Citrate is labeled as a food additive with the symbol E331.

Trisodium Citrate properties

Trisodium Citrate is in the form of a white, odorless powder with a slightly salty taste. It occurs as a hydrate in combination with water. It is characterized by the fact that it is hygroscopic, so it easily absorbs and combines with water. Therefore, it should be stored under such conditions that it is protected from moisture. Although it is a salt of an acid, Trisodium Citrate has an alkaline pH.

Trisodium Citrate uses

Trisodium Citrate has many uses, but is mainly applied in the food industry. It has similar applications as Citric Acid, so it is usually used as a flavor enhancer, to acidify foods or beverages, or as a preservative.

Trisodium Citrate is also commonly used in medicine as a drug ingredient, usually for people with urinary tract infections. It also plays a role as an anticoagulant, which means it inhibits blood clotting.

In addition, Trisodium Citrate is used in chemistry. It is a component of buffers and a component of Benedict’s reagent, which is used to detect sugars and aldehydes. Trisodium Citrate is also found in cosmetics such as shower gels, shampoos or skin creams, as it gives them the right acidity level and is used as a preservative.

Another application of Trisodium Citrate is to remove scale from boilers, clean car radiators, and burnt sheet metal or pots. It is also used in the production of cleaning products, as it softens water, allowing detergents to work more effectively.

Trisodium Citrate in food industry

Trisodium Citrate in food industry

Trisodium Citrate is found in carbonated beverages, dairy products, confectionery, prepared foods, canned meats and vegetables, margarine, mustard, sauces, mayonnaise, spices, jams, and much more. This is not surprising, because Trisodium Citrate has various properties that are important for the food industry.

Firstly, Trisodium Citrate is used as an acidity regulator to maintain the proper pH of the product. It is found in sodas, especially those with lemon flavor, energy drinks, desserts or jams.

This chemical compound is a sequestering agent, which means it is a substance that binds metal ions, called chelates. Thanks to this, the consumer is protected from the harmful effects of heavy metals in foods.

Trisodium Citrate is also an emulsifier – it enables the preparation of a uniform solution from two immiscible liquids. It is useful, for example, in the production of cheese, as it does not become greasy after melting, because Trisodium Citrate prevents the separation of fats.

Another use of Trisodium Citrate in the food industry is as a preservative. It protects the fats in the product from oxidation and rancidity. Trisodium Citrate also prevents color changes in foods.

Trisodium Citrate in medicine

Trisodium Citrate is not only known as a food additive, but also as an important chemical compound in medicine. Trisodium Citrate is used in analytical laboratories where blood tests are performed because it has an anticoagulant effect. This prevents blood cells from clumping together. Trisodium Citrate is then used as a component of solutions for filling hemodialysis catheters. It lowers the concentration of heparin, which in turn reduces the risks associated with coagulation disorders in patients with kidney disease or blood clotting. This counteracts side effects during and after dialysis treatment. This effect is also extremely useful when storing blood or during transfusions.

Trisodium Citrate is also used as a drug. It treats kidney stones, gout and reduces the symptoms of metabolic acidosis. It can also be used as a laxative. Trisodium Citrate can be used for hypercalcemia, a condition in which the concentration of calcium in the blood is too high. Trisodium Citrate works by increasing the excretion of calcium through the urine.

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