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The sodium salt of acetic acid is known as sodium acetate. It is a cheap laboratory chemical typically purchased rather than made in a lab experiment by reacting acetic acid, frequently found in the 5-8% solution called vinegar, with either sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate. The resulting sodium acetate is soluble in water. It is neutral in its aqueous solution but, upon dissolution, it becomes mildly basic in nature. This is because aqueous solutions of acetic acid, a weak acid, contain hydrogen ions that interact with the carbonate or bicarbonate anion to form an acetate ion.

Sodium acetate is hygroscopic in its pure form, which is a white granular powder. When it is supersaturated, however, it forms thin crystals of the trihydrate and has an odor resembling household vinegar or acetic acid. The crystals can be dissolved in hot water to produce a crystalline solution that has the appearance of liquid hot ice and is commonly used as a hand warmer or heating pad. It is also an ingredient in the production of some medical and pharmaceutical products including electrolytes, acetaminophen, and antidepressants.

When it is ingested, sodium acetate has no adverse effects. It is a common food additive to prevent spoilage and can also function as a buffer to maintain a particular pH in foods. Sodium acetate is also used in biology as an acidic carbon source and to boost ethanol precipitation yields for DNA isolation. During pregnancy, it has been tested in animals using the Chernoff/Kavlock in-vivo teratology screen procedure and was found to not induce fetal abnormalities.

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