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CHEMINFO Record Number: 596
CCOHS Chemical Name: Sodium formate

Formic acid, sodium salt
Formate de sodium

Chemical Name French: Formiate de sodium
Chemical Name Spanish: Formiato de sodio
Sal sódica del ácido fórmico
CAS Registry Number: 141-53-7
RTECS Number(s): LR0350000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 205-488-0
Chemical Family: Saturated aliphatic carboxylic acid salt / saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acid salt / alkanoic acid salt / formate / sodium salt
Molecular Formula: C-H-Na-O2
Structural Formula: H-CO2-.Na+


Appearance and Odour:
White granules or crystalline powder; slight odour of formic acid; deliquescent (absorbs moisture from the air and forms wet solid or solution).(3)

Odour Threshold:
Not available

Warning Properties:
Insufficient information for evaluation.

Available in very pure form (more than 99% pure) and in technical grades.(1,2)

Uses and Occurrences:
Used in the manufacture of formic and oxalic acids and sodium dithionite, as well as other organic chemicals; used as a mordant in the dyeing and printing of fabrics; in leather tanning; in electroplating and photographic fixing baths; as a precipitant for the noble metals in analytical chemistry; complexing agent for trivalent metal ions; as a buffering agent of strong mineral acids to higher pH; caustic, astringent agent for medicinal purposes.(1,3,4)


White deliquescent granules or crystalline powder; slight odour of formic acid. COMBUSTIBLE DUST. The dry powder can form explosive dust-air mixtures. Forms highly flammable hydrogen gas at temperatures above 253 deg C. Essentially non-toxic.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

No human or animal inhalation studies have been reported. It is expected that sodium formate causes only minor, reversible effects on the lungs. High concentrations of dust or mist (from solutions) can probably cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract.(6)

Skin Contact:
No human or animal information is available. Sodium formate solutions may cause skin irritation.(6) Sodium formate is probably not absorbed through the skin to a significant extent.

Eye Contact:
No human or animal information is available. Mists or solutions may cause eye irritation.(6) For dust, some tearing, blinking and mild, temporary pain may occur as the solid material is rinsed from the eye by tears.

Based on animal and human information, sodium formate is low in oral toxicity. Daily ingestion of up to 10 g (approximately 150 mg/kg) for several days apparently produced no ill effects in some men.(7) In another study, ingestion of 3 to 4 g/day produced blood in the urine of one of three patients.(8) Ingestion is not a typical route of occupational exposure.

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

SKIN: Prolonged or repeated contact with solutions can probably cause redness, drying and cracking of the skin (dermatitis).


No animal or human information is available.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of this chemical.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has no listing for this chemical.

The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not listed this chemical in its report on carcinogens.

Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity:
No animal or human information is available.

Reproductive Toxicity:
No animal or human information is available.

No specific information is available.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
No information available.

Potential for Accumulation:
Does not accumulate. Rapidly broken down and eliminated from the body.


If symptoms are experienced, remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air. If symptoms persist, obtain medical advice immediately.

Skin Contact:
No health effects expected. If irritation does occur, flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until the chemical is removed. If irritation persists, obtain medical advice immediately.

Eye Contact:
Do not allow victim to rub eye(s). Let the eye(s) water naturally for a few minutes. Have victim look right and left, and then up and down. If particle/dust does not dislodge, flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water for 5 minutes or until particle/dust is removed, while holding the eyelid(s) open. If irritation persists, obtain medical attention. DO NOT attempt to manually remove anything stuck to eye(s).

If irritation or discomfort occur, obtain medical advice immediately.

First Aid Comments:
All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a physician familiar with the material and its conditions of use in the workplace.


Flash Point:
Not applicable. Sodium formate does not form a vapour.

Lower Flammable (Explosive) Limit (LFL/LEL):
Not applicable

Upper Flammable (Explosive) Limit (UFL/UEL):
Not applicable

Autoignition (Ignition) Temperature:
Not applicable

Sensitivity to Mechanical Impact:
Stable material. Probably not sensitive.

Combustion and Thermal Decomposition Products:
At temperatures above 253 deg C, it decomposes into sodium oxalate and hydrogen, then into sodium carbonate.(3) Under fire conditions, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide may be formed.(6)

Flammable Properties:

Extinguishing Media:
Use extinguishing media suitable for surrounding fire.

Fire Fighting Instructions:
Evacuate area and fight fire from a safe distance or a protected location. Highly flammable hydrogen gas may be formed above 253 deg C.
Avoid generating dust to minimize risk of explosion. Water can be used in the form of spray or fog to prevent dust formation, absorb heat, keep containers cool and protect fire-exposed material. Solid streams of water may be ineffective and spread material.
As in any fire, wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), pressure-demand, (MSHA/NIOSH approved or equivalent) and full protective equipment (Bunker Gear).


NFPA - Comments:
NFPA has no listing for this chemical in Codes 49 or 325.


Molecular Weight: 68.02

Conversion Factor:
Not applicable

Physical State: Solid
Melting Point: 253 deg C (487 deg F) (3); 259-261 deg C (498-502 deg F) (6)
Boiling Point: Not applicable. Decomposes at temperatures above melting point (253 deg C) (3)
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 1.92 at 20 deg C (water = 1) (1)
Solubility in Water: Very soluble in water (77 g/100 mL).(3)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Soluble in glycerol; slightly soluble in ethanol; insoluble in diethyl ether.(1,3)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not available
pH Value: Neutral; 7.0-8.5 (1 M solution, 20 deg C) (2)
Vapour Density: Not applicable
Vapour Pressure: Zero (does not form a vapour).
Saturation Vapour Concentration: Not applicable
Evaporation Rate: Not applicable
Critical Temperature: Not applicable


Normally stable.

Hazardous Polymerization:
Will not occur.

Incompatibility - Materials to Avoid:

NOTE: Chemical reactions that could result in a hazardous situation (e.g. generation of flammable or toxic chemicals, fire or detonation) are listed here. Many of these reactions can be done safely if specific control measures (e.g. cooling of the reaction) are in place. Although not intended to be complete, an overview of important reactions involving common chemicals is provided to assist in the development of safe work practices.

STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS - risk of fire and explosion (6) STRONG ACIDS - may react vigorously and decompose sodium formate producing formic acid vapours.(6)

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Not known

Conditions to Avoid:
Static charge, sparks, heat and other ignition sources, generation of dust.

Corrosivity to Metals:
Very weakly corrosive to most metals.(13)


LD50 (oral, mouse): 11200 mg/kg (9)

Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure:

Sodium formate has been fed to various animal species without evidence of toxic effects on the eyes.(5) This effect was investigated because methanol, which can cause blindness, is metabolized to formate in the body.


Selected Bibliography:
(1) HSDB record for sodium formate. Date of last update: 9412
(2) Fluka Chemika-BioChemika 1995/96. Fluka Chemie AG, 1995. p. 1334- 1335
(3) The Merck index: an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals. 11th edition. Merck & Co., Inc., 1989. p. 1362
(4) Reutemann, W., et al. Formic acid. In: Ullmann's encyclopedia of industrial chemistry. 5th, completely revised edition. Vol. A2. VCH, 1989. p. 13-33
(5) Grant, W.M., et al. Toxicology of the Eye. 4th Edition. Charles C Thomas, 1993. p. 715
(6) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Edition II. Volume 2. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988. p. 1736C
(7) Gosselin, R.E., et al. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th edition. Williams & Williams, 1984. p. II-102
(8) Solmann, T. Studies of chronic intoxications on albino rats: III acetic and formic acids. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Vol. 16 (1921). p. 463-474
(9) Malorny, G. Acute and chronic toxicity of formic acid and formates. Zeitschrift fur Ernaehrungswissenschaft, Vol. 9, no. 4 (1969). p. 332-339
(10) Boyland, E., et al. Catalase poisons in relation to changes in radiosensitivity. British Journal of Cancer. Volume 6 (1952). p. 162
(11) Field, P. Explosibility assessment of industrial powders and dusts. Building Research Establishment, 1983
(12) Fire protection handbook. 17th edition. National Fire Protection Association, 1991. p. 2-332 to 2-333, 3-133 to 3-142
(13) Corrosion data survey: metals section. 6th edition. National Association of Corrosion Engineers, 1985. p. 116-117
(14) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated, Total. In: NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM(R)). 4th ed. Edited by M.E. Cassinelli, et al. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 94-113. Aug. 1994. Available at: <>
(15) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Particulates Not Otherwise Regulated, Respirable. In: NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM(R)). 4th ed. Edited by M.E. Cassinelli, et al. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 94-113. Aug. 1994. Available at: <>
(16) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Metal and Metalloid Particulates in Workplace Atmospheres (Atomic Absorption). In: OSHA Analytical Methods Manual. Revision Date: Oct. 31, 2001. Available at:

Information on chemicals reviewed in the CHEMINFO database is drawn from a number of publicly available sources. A list of general references used to compile CHEMINFO records is available in the database Help.

Review/Preparation Date: 1995-10-25

Revision Indicators:
Respiratory guidelines 1996-06-01
US transport 1996-06-01
EU class 1996-06-01
Bibliography 2005-03-24
Sampling/analysis 2005-03-24
LFL/LEL 2006-10-04
UFL/UEL 2006-10-04

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