|Amy Lovelock firstname.lastname@example.org 21/06/2006|
Sodium benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid. In acidic conditions the sodium is replaced by a hydrogen and benzoic acid is formed. Hence when put in alkaline conditions (e.g. in a NaOH solution) the salt is reformed.
Benzoic acid was discovered in the 1500's. Gum benzoin was dry distilled by Nostradamus (1556) (pictured left), by Girolamo Ruscelli (1560) and Blaise de Vigenère (1596) (pictured right).
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Vigenere.jpg
Gum benzoin is the term used to describe the resinous product obtained from styrax trees. The genus styrax includes about 130 species of trees and shrubs which grow in tropical and temperate climates. The term gum is not really appropriate though because benzoin is firstly not water-soluble, nor is it a polysaccharide!
The structure was finally determined by Justus von Liebig (below, left) and Friedrich Wöhler (below, right) nearly 250 years later in 1832.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justus_von_Liebig
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Woehler
Sodium benzoate has been used as a preservative since the early 1900's. Since then it has been used more and more until studies (particularly in the early 1990's) showed that large quantities are not advisable. Is is safe?