What Is Sodium Chlorite?

Sodium chlorite is a salt-based chemical that also features the element chlorine. It has several practical uses and is very similar to sodium chlorate, a common food additive. Most people interact with sodium chlorite frequently but do not realize it, because the chemical is rarely interacted with in large portions. While not dangerous in small amounts, large doses of sodium chlorite can be dangerous.

A blue plastic spoon pours sodium chlorite into a jar on a white counter. (Image: Jiradelta/iStock/Getty Images)

Chemical Composition

Sodium chlorite is the product of three elements: sodium (Na), chlorine (Cl) and oxygen. In each molecule, one sodium atom and one chlorine atom bind with two oxygen atoms. The chemical equation for this composition is NaClO2. It is found in solid form as a white powder and is also water-soluble. Under high heat, it can be explosive.

Oxidizing Power

One of the primary uses of sodium chlorite is as a oxidizer. It is helpful in bleaching various types of materials, such as wood, oils, and other textile products. It can help deactivate many types of poisons by interacting with them and changing their chemical composition. The oxidizing powers of sodium chlorite also make it a useful pesticide and herbicide.

Agriculture

According to Health Science Spirit, sodium chlorite has widespread application in agriculture. It can be combined with citric acid, which helps acidify it, and applied to food products as an antimicrobial treatment. This treatment can be used on meats, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables. It can be applied in food and water treatments to kill various microbials and parasites without eliminating healthy bacteria needed by our digestive system.

Other Uses

According to Health Science Spirit, sodium chlorite may be an effective treatment of toothaches. It can also turn some heavy metals soluble, making it easier for them to be expelled from the body. One of the benefits of its internal treatment is that it does not react badly with organic matter, including our food and our own bodies.

Warning

While sodium chlorite is safe in low dosages, it can be harmful to your health if consumed in dosages larger than half a teaspoon. If this occurs, you should begin drinking water immediately and continue drinking to dilute the chemical. Call Poison Control for step-by-step guidance and, if needed, medical help. Health Science Spirit also recommends added half a teaspoon of soda bicarbonate with every glass drank. You can also consider inducing vomiting after drinking several glasses. Be aware that sodium chlorite can irritate the eyes and should not come in contact with them.

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