Also known as trisodium 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylate

The term sodium citrate is most commonly used to refer to trisodium citrate. However, it can also refer to other sodium salts from citrate — such as disodium citrate and monosodium citrate. It is also known by its IUPAC name as trisodium 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylate, and it has the chemical formula Na3C6H5O7 and the assigned CAS Number 68-04-2. Other names for sodium citrate include citric acid, trisodium salt, and 1,2,3-propanetricarboxylic acid.

Food grade sodium citrate — identified by the E number E331 — has many commercial applications. One of its primary uses is to prolong the shelf life of food products. In addition to its widespread use as a preservative, its flavoring characteristic makes it a popular ingredient in many beverages — especially those with citrus flavors.

Though few people are aware of sodium citrate’s formal name, they rely on its strength as an alkalizer when they use Alka Seltzer tablets — making it quite a popular compound found in many households.

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Sodium Citrate for Food and Beverage

In the food and beverage industry, sodium citrate is a well-known food grade additive. It is primarily used as a preservative, a flavoring agent, or both. Its tartness adds flavor to a range of foods and drinks such as bratwurst, club soda, powdered drink mixes, gelatins, jams, wines, carbonated drinks, ice cream, processed cheeses, milk powders, and yogurt. Furthermore, it is added as an emulsifying salt in almost all processed sliced cheese foods to prevent them from becoming overly greasy when melted.

Overall, the most popular use of sodium citrate as an additive in the food and beverage industry is as a flavoring agent to enhance taste, as a buffering agent to help control pH, or as a preserving agent to aid in the prevention of food spoilage.


Sodium citrate’s applications in health care stretch back for over a century. Since 1914, when Albert Hustin and Luis Agote first used it in blood transfusions, sodium citrate has been a known anticoagulant. Today, it is still employed as a coating in tubes used for blood collection and as a preservative in blood banks.

SODIUM CITRATE FOR Pharmaceuticals

When used in medical preparations and tablets that effervesce — such as Alka Seltzer — sodium citrate helps active ingredients dissolve. Plus, as a flavoring agent, it helps with the palatability of such products. These combined effects also make it a useful ingredient in foaming vitamin tablets, denture cleaners, and pain relievers in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, its ability to promote alkalinity in urine make it an effective part of kidney stone prevention treatments.

SODIUM CITRATE FOR cleaning products

In household cleaning products and detergents, sodium citrate acts as a sequestering builder. It influences the alkalinity of solutions and bonds with minerals found in water in order to soften it. As a result, sodium citrate allows the surfactants contained in cleaners — such as commercial dishwashing and laundry detergents — to work more effectively.

SODIUM CITRATE FOR the industrial sector

This salt of sodium also has several applications in the industrial sector. From reducing rust and calcium in boiler systems to decontaminating radioactive materials in nuclear settings, it is prized for its cleaning and polishing abilities as well as its lack of toxicity. It can be used as a descaler that does not require the equipment being cleaned to stop operating. This quality makes it a popular compound that is used in a wide range of organizations, from textile and paper mills to oil rigs and refineries.


An odorless, white crystalline or powdery substance, sodium citrate is a sodium salt — most often the trisodium salt — derived from citric acid. It is characterized by its slightly tart, pleasing saline flavor. As a popular food additive and preservative, sodium citrate can be manufactured to meet vegetarian, kosher, or halal certifications.


Whether you are a sodium citrate supplier, a member of a research and development team, or a procurement professional, you can count on food grade ingredient distribution from Brenntag North America. Our clean label alternatives, tailor-made supply chain solutions, and just-in-time deliveries are designed to support your business’s success.

Thanks to our portfolio of more than 10,000 products, combined with our distribution network that stretches across more than 70 countries and 500 locations, you will always get the quality products you need on time and in the quantity you require. To enjoy dedicated support and timely delivery of all the food grade ingredients your company needs:

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