Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for sodium acetate

It's time for a Monday Morning Hangover! You might be asking "Oh, my head! Why do I feel like crap? Why do I continue to abuse myself everyday? When did my life go so downhill?"
I can't give you all the answers (suck it up and take some aspirin like rest of us, you baby) but the reason why your head hurts is the subject of today's A  to Z post!
Sodium Acetate is an electrolyte with the chemical formula of CH3COONa or NaOAc for short. It is the sodium salt of acetic acid, which many of you may know as Vinegar. It is used in many things, like flavoring for salt and vinegar potato chips, or neutralizing sulfuric acid waste streams.
Now, the real reason for a hangover headache is speculated, moving from dehydration to cogeners, byproducts of alcohol fermentation. But it is worth noting that studies done by injecting rats with 20 to 60 mg per body weight of sodium acetate caused the same photosensitive headaches that occur during migraines and hangovers. This simulated the oxidation of ethanol in the liver to create acetate. None of this information is helping you feel less queasy though.
As it turns out, Sodium Acetate is surprisingly easy to make in your kitchen, in case you want to become an ametuer chemist. When you a purified form, you can create hot ice, which has a crystallization process that is really cool to watch. It's an exothermic reaction, which means that it produces energy as apposed to ice which draws in energy in order to form. So it becomes hot when it begins to crystallize. Really, crystals from a science standpoint are pretty damn cool. - Watch a video on how to make Hot Ice.


  1. Hmm, now I wonder what is used in 'hot bag' - the stuffs that crystallized and produce heat. The hot bag is usually place on our aching body - back, knee ... not sure if it worked to treat headache though ;)

  2. Poor rats! No more salt and vinegar crisps for me when I'm drinking ;)

  3. I agree with Alana. I feel bad for the rats. Oh what we do to them in the name of science. Great post! I enjoyed taking a look at your site on the my way through the A-Z challenge.