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CHEMINFO Record Number: 710
CCOHS Chemical Name: Sodium propionate

Propanoic acid, sodium salt
Propionic acid, sodium salt
Sodium propanoate
Propianate de sodium

Chemical Name French: Propionate de sodium
Chemical Name Spanish: Propionato de sodio
Sal sódica del ácido propiónico
CAS Registry Number: 137-40-6
Other CAS Registry Number(s): 6700-17-0
RTECS Number(s): UF7525000
EU EINECS/ELINCS Number: 205-290-4
Chemical Family: Saturated aliphatic carboxylic acid salt / saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acid salt / alkanoic acid salt / propionic acid salt / propionate / sodium salt
Molecular Formula: C3-H5-Na-O2
Structural Formula: CH3-CH2-CO-O-.Na+


Appearance and Odour:
Colourless crystals or granules. Odourless or with a slight propionic acid odour. Deliquescent (absorbs moisture from the air and forms wet solid) in moist air.(1,3,10)

Odour Threshold:
No information available

Warning Properties:
Insufficient information for evaluation

Exists in anhydrous and hydrated forms.

Uses and Occurrences:
The major uses of sodium propionate are as a fungicide and preservative in foods and pharmaceuticals; mold inhibitor for baked goods other than bread; feed grain and smoking and chewing tobacco preservative; antiseptic; veterinary medicinal and anti-fungal agent; glucogenic agent.(1,2,3)


Colourless crystals or granules. Odourless or with a slight propionic acid odour. Deliquescent in moist air. COMBUSTIBLE DUST. The dry powder can form explosive dust-air mixtures. Practically non-toxic.


Effects of Short-Term (Acute) Exposure

The available information indicates that sodium propionate is practically non-toxic.(2,4) High concentrations of dusts or mists (from solutions) may cause coughing and mild, temporary irritation.

Skin Contact:
There is no human or animal information available. However, sodium propionate is probably not irritating.

Eye Contact:
Application of a 15% solution to a volunteer's eye did not cause any irritation.(4) One animal study also showed no irritation. Dusts would probably not cause eye irritation except as a "foreign body". Some tearing, blinking and mild temporary pain may occur as the solid material is rinsed from the eye by tears. Concentrated solutions may cause slight eye irritation.

Based on animal information, sodium propionate is practically non-toxic. One case of human ingestion of 6000 mg daily resulted in faintly alkaline urine, but had no other effect. It is generally recognized as safe for ingestion at low levels.(4)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure

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


No human or animal information available. Probably not carcinogenic.

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. Probably not teratogenic or embryotoxic.

Reproductive Toxicity:
No animal or human information is available. Probably not a reproductive hazard.

No animal or human information is available. Probably not mutagenic.

Toxicologically Synergistic Materials:
Information not available.

Potential for Accumulation:
Does not accumulate. Propionic acid is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and metabolized like other fatty acids. In animal studies, the propionate from sodium propionate was incorporated into the body fat or tissues. Fifty percent of the propionate fed to mice was rapidly converted to carbon dioxide, which was excreted in the expired air.(3,4)


If symptoms are experienced, remove source of contamination or move victim to fresh air and 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).

No health effects expected. 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 propionate 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:
Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sodium oxide fumes.(3,8)

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. 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: 96.07

Conversion Factor:
Not applicable

Physical State: Solid
Melting Point: 285-286 deg C (545-547 deg F) (8)
Boiling Point: Not available
Relative Density (Specific Gravity): 0.4 (water = 1)
Solubility in Water: Very soluble in water (100 g/100 mL) (1,10)
Solubility in Other Liquids: Moderately soluble in ethanol (4 g/100 mL at 25 deg C); practically insoluble in diethyl ether and chloroform.(1,3,10)
Coefficient of Oil/Water Distribution (Partition Coefficient): Not available
pH Value: Neutral or slighty alkaline (1)
Vapour Density: Not applicable
Vapour Pressure: Zero (does not form vapour)
Saturation Vapour Concentration: Not applicable
Evaporation Rate: Not applicable
Critical Temperature: Not applicable


Normally stable

Hazardous Polymerization:
Does 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 MATERIALS - increased risk of fire and explosion.(8)
STRONG ACIDS - can decompose sodium propionate and produce propionic acid vapours.

Hazardous Decomposition Products:
None reported

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

Corrosivity to Metals:
Information not available


LD50 (oral, mouse): 6332 mg/kg (5;unconfirmed)

Eye Irritation:

Application of a 20% solution in water caused no irritation in rabbits.(4)

Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure:

No effects on growth were observed in rats fed 1 or 3% sodium propionate in the diet for 4 to 5 weeks. No effects on growth, mortality rate or body weight were observed in rats fed up to 3.75% sodium propionate in the diet, as well as high levels of other food additives in a 1-year study. No toxic effects were noted during autopsy.(4)


Selected Bibliography:
(1) The Merck index: an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals. 11th edition. Merck & Co., Inc., 1989. p. 1367
(2) CRC handbook of food additives. 2nd edition. Volume 1. CRC Press, 1977. p. 137-141
(3) HSDB record for sodium propionate. Date of last update: 9412
(4) Toxicological evaluation of some food additives including anticaking agents, antimicrobials, antioxidants, emulsifiers and thickening agents. WHO Food Additives Series, No. 5. World Health Organization, 1974. p. 110-118
(5) RTECS record for propionic acid, sodium salt. Date of last update: 9504
(6) Field, P. Explosibility assessment of industrial powders and dusts. Building Research Establishment, 1983
(7) Grossel, S.S. Safety considerations in conveying of bulk solids and powders. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries. Vol. no. 1 (April, 1988). p. 62-74
(8) The Sigma-Aldrich library of chemical safety data. Edition II. Volume 2. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, 1988. p. 2958A
(9) Schwab, R.F. Dusts. In: Fire protection handbook. Edited by A.E. Cote. 18th edition. National Fire Protection Association, 1991. p. 4-174 to 4-181
(10) Martindale: the extra pharmacopoeia. 29th edition. The Pharmaceutical Press, 1989. p. 433-434
(11) 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: <>
(12) 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: <>
(13) 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: 1995-10-02

Revision Indicators:
EU class 1996-06-01
US Transport 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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