Product Information

Sodium Formate

Sodium Formate (CAS: 141-53-7) Supplier in Europe

Sodium formate, with the chemical formula HCOONa, is the sodium salt of formic acid. It is often encountered as a white deliquescent powder that is highly soluble in water.

The compound has various industrial uses, from being a buffering agent in strong mineral acids to its application in the leather tanning industry.

Commercially, sodium formate is primarily produced by the reaction of carbon monoxide with sodium hydroxide at elevated temperatures and pressures, where carbon monoxide is absorbed into the hydroxide under pressure forming the salt.

In addition to its industrial applications, sodium formate serves as a de-icing agent for runways and roads, taking advantage of its ability to depress the freezing point of water.

It’s also used in the production of sodium hydrosulphite, a common reductive bleaching agent, and as an enzyme stabilizer in detergents.

The chemical’s properties, including its relatively high melting point compared to other sodium salts, lend to its versatility across various sectors.

Chemical Properties

Sodium formate is characterized by its distinct chemical properties, such as molecular composition, solubility, pH level, and temperature thresholds for its phase transitions.

Molecular Formula

The molecular formula for sodium formate is HCOONa. This signifies that it comprises one atom of hydrogen, one of carbon, one of oxygen, paired through a formate group, and one of sodium.


Sodium formate is highly soluble in water and can dissolve in other polar solvents.

Specifically, it is soluble in glycerol and alcohol but insoluble in non-polar solvents like ether.

pH Level

As the sodium salt of formic acid, sodium formate has a pH that tends toward the alkaline side, which can impact its role when used as a buffer in various industrial processes.

Boiling and Melting Points

Sodium formate has distinct phase transition points.

It melts at approximately 253 degrees Celsius (487 degrees Fahrenheit) and, under the right conditions, decomposes instead of boiling.


The production of sodium formate involves several chemical processes to transform raw materials into a usable product for commercial applications.

Synthesis Methods

Sodium formate can be synthesized through a direct reaction between formic acid and sodium hydroxide. The balanced chemical equation for this synthesis method is as follows:

Formic Acid + Sodium Hydroxide = Sodium Formate + Water

  • HCHO₂ + NaOH → HCO₂Na + H₂O

This reaction is straightforward, allowing for simple and cost-effective production suitable for large-scale manufacturing.

Industrial Scale Production

On an industrial level, sodium formate is commonly produced by the absorption of carbon monoxide in solid sodium hydroxide. This is conducted under specific conditions of temperature and pressure:

  • Temperature: 130 °C
  • Pressure: 6-8 bar

The reaction involved is:

Carbon Monoxide + Sodium Hydroxide = Sodium Formate

  • CO + NaOH → HCO₂Na

These controlled conditions help to ensure the reaction’s efficiency and the quality of the sodium formate produced. The market for sodium formate is growing, emphasizing the importance of these production processes in meeting global demand.


Sodium formate is leveraged in various applications due to its chemical properties, including its use as a buffering and reducing agent. Its versatility supports industries ranging from de-icing to textile processing.

De-Icing Agent

Sodium formate is effectively used as a de-icing agent for runways at airports. It is favored for its low corrosivity compared to traditional de-icing chemicals, reducing damage to aircraft and infrastructure.

Preservative in Leather Industry

In the leather industry, sodium formate acts as a preservative, helping to stabilize the hides and preventing decay during the tanning process.

Catalyst in Organic Synthesis

Sodium formate serves as a catalyst and a reagent in organic synthesis reactions. Its involvement is crucial in synthesizing various organic compounds.

Textile Dyeing and Finishing

During textile dyeing and finishing, sodium formate is applied as a buffering agent to control the pH of the dye formulations. It ensures optimal conditions for the dye to adhere to the fabrics.

Safety and Handling

Sodium formate is handled with caution due to its chemical properties, with specific guidelines for safe usage and disposal outlined in material safety data sheets.

Material Safety Data Sheet

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for sodium formate provides detailed information on safety and handling procedures.

These documents, up-to-date as per the latest regulations, state:

  • Product Identifier: Sodium formate, CAS-No. 141-53-7
  • Hazards Identification: Classified as a substance with potential health risks if not handled properly.

Handling Procedures

Proper handling procedures are crucial to ensure safety when working with sodium formate:

  1. Personal Protection:
    • Skin Protection: Use protective gloves to prevent skin contact.
    • Eye Protection: Safety goggles should be worn to avoid eye exposure.
  2. Storage and Handling:
    • Storage: Keep in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, away from incompatible materials.
    • Handling: Avoid generating dust and ensure adequate ventilation or exhaust systems are in place.

Environmental Impact

When discussing the environmental impact of sodium formate, it is pertinent to focus on its biodegradability and the toxicity to aquatic life. These areas are crucial for understanding the ecological footprint of this chemical when used in applications such as de-icing.


Sodium formate is considered to be a biodegradable compound.

It breaks down relatively quickly in the environment, which is beneficial as it does not accumulate and persist over extended periods.

This characteristic reduces its potential for long-term environmental disruption, particularly when compared to more persistent chemical alternatives.

Toxicity to Aquatic Life

The use of sodium formate can have implications for aquatic ecosystems.

While sodium formate is generally less harmful than some other deicing agents, its impact on aquatic life can vary based on concentration and exposure.

In standard laboratory tests, like those evaluating biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD), as well as acute rainbow trout bioassays, sodium formate demonstrates its interaction with the aquatic environment.

Phytotoxicity tests also reveal effects on plant life, indicating the necessity for careful management of runoffs into water bodies.

Regulatory Information

This section provides an overview of the regulatory landscape for sodium formate, including various global regulations and specific safety and transportation codes that govern its handling and distribution.

Global Regulations

Sodium formate, with the CAS No. 141-53-7, is recognized and listed under several regulatory frameworks worldwide.

In the United States, it is an active chemical listed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as per updates from December 2021. This status mandates compliance with relevant environmental and safety regulations.

Internationally, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) manages substance identification and regulatory obligations, ensuring that substances like sodium formate are appropriately classified, labeled, and packaged according to the EU’s chemical regulations.

Safety and Transportation Codes

When it comes to safety and transportation, sodium formate is not identified as flammable or explosive, which simplifies its transportation requirements.

However, detailed safety data sheets, like the one provided by MilliporeSigma, are essential for safe handling procedures and are required under regulation such as OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard in the US.

Transportation Category Regulation Code Remarks
Shipping 49 CFR N/A Not classified as hazardous material
Handling OSHA HCS 29 CFR 1910.1200 Requires a safety data sheet
Storage EPA 40 CFR Part 710 Listed under TSCA inventory

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses common inquiries regarding sodium formate, providing concise and factual answers about its properties, applications, and safety considerations.

What is the chemical formula of sodium formate?

The chemical formula for sodium formate is HCOONa.

How is sodium formate used in various industries?

Sodium formate is utilized in several industries such as in winter road deicing, leather tanning, oilfield operations, as a reducing agent in chemical synthesis, a catalyst in organic synthesis, a food preservative, and a buffering agent in dyeing processes.

Can sodium formate be classified as an acid or a base?

Sodium formate is the sodium salt of formic acid, hence it acts as a base in chemical reactions.

What is the CAS number for sodium formate?

The CAS number for sodium formate is 141-53-7.

What are the potential hazards associated with handling sodium formate?

Sodium formate can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues; prolonged exposure might be harmful. It should be handled with appropriate safety measures.

Is sodium formate soluble in water?

Sodium formate is highly soluble in water.

This facilitates its use in various aqueous applications.