3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E212 (preservatives)|
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||160.213 g·mol−1|
|Appearance||White hygroscopic solid|
|Melting point||>300 °C (572 °F; 573 K)|
|69.87 g/100 mL (17.5 °C)|
73.83 g/100 mL (25 °C)
79 g/100 mL (33.3 °C)
88.33 g/100 mL (50 °C)
|Solubility in other solvents||Soluble in ethanol|
Slightly soluble in methanol
Insoluble in ether
|NFPA 704 (fire diamond)|
|950 °C (1,740 °F; 1,220 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
Potassium benzoate (E212), the potassium salt of benzoic acid, is a food preservative that inhibits the growth of mold, yeast and some bacteria. It works best in low-pH products, below 4.5, where it exists as benzoic acid.
Acidic foods and beverages such as fruit juice (citric acid), sparkling drinks (carbonic acid), soft drinks (phosphoric acid), and pickles (vinegar) may be preserved with potassium benzoate. It is approved for use in most countries including Canada, the U.S., and the EU, where it is designated by the E number E212.
One very common way to make potassium benzoate is by oxidizing toluene to benzoic acid followed by a neutralization with potassium hydroxide. Another way to synthesize potassium benzoate in the lab setting is by hydrolyzing methyl benzoate with potassium hydroxide.
Mechanism of food preservation
The mechanism of food preservation begins with the absorption of benzoic acid into the cell. If the intracellular pH changes to 5 or lower, the anaerobic fermentation of glucose through phosphofructokinase is decreased by 95%.
Safety and health
Potassium benzoate has low acute toxicity upon oral and dermal exposure. The Food Commission, which campaigns for safer, healthier food in the UK, describes potassium benzoate as "mildly irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes".
Under certain circumstances, such as in the presence of ascorbic acid, benzoate salts can produce benzene in soft drinks. The US Food and Drug Administration states the levels of benzene measured do not pose a safety concern for consumers.
The carbon-13 NMR shows 5 unique peaks. There are four peaks between 130-140 ppm from the carbon atoms in the benzene ring. There is an additional carbon peak around 178 ppm representing the carbon atom from the carbonyl group.
- "Potassium Benzoate". Emerald Kalama Chemical. Retrieved 2014-06-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Seidell, Atherton; Linke, William F. (1952). Solubilities of Inorganic and Organic Compounds. Van Nostrand. Retrieved 2014-05-29. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Press Release from Defense Technical Information Center; article- Potassium Benzoate for Pyrotechnic Whistling Compositions: Its Synthesis and Characterization as an Anhydrous Salt
- Preparation of potassium benzoate, US 3867439
- "Benzoates" (PDF). United Nations Environment Programme.
- , The Food Magazine, Issue 77, Food Commission UK
- Bedford PG, Clarke EG (1972). "Experimental benzoic acid poisoning in the cat". Vet Rec. 90 (3): 53–58. doi:10.1136/vr.90.3.53. PMID 4672555. S2CID 2553612.
- "Questions and Answers on the Occurrence of Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages". Food and Drug Administration.
...the levels of benzene found in beverages to date do not pose a safety concern for consumers.
- SciFinder - Carbon-13 NMR Spectrum for 582-25-2