sodium sulphite

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A white solid, Na2SO3, existing in an anhydrous form (r.d. 2.63) and as a heptahydrate (r.d. 1.59). Sodium sulphite is soluble in water and because it is readily oxidized it is widely used as a convenient reducing agent. It is prepared by reacting sulphur dioxide with either sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide. Dilute mineral acids reverse this process and release sulphur dioxide. Sodium sulphite is used as a bleaching agent in textiles and in paper manufacture. Its use as an antioxidant in some canned foodstuffs gives rise to a slightly sulphurous smell immediately on opening, but its use is prohibited in meats or foods that contain vitamin B1. Sodium sulphite solutions are occasionally used as biological preservatives.

Subjects: Chemistry.

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