What Is Sodium Alginate? Applications, Use, and Properties of Alginic Acid

Sodium alginate is a type of polysaccharide, or carbohydrate, made from the brown seaweed algin. This unique molecule has many interesting properties which have led to it being used in a variety of industries. In this article, we will explore what sodium alginate is, its applications and uses, and some of its properties.
Sodium Alginate

What Is Sodium Alginate?

Sodium alginate is a gum derived from brown algae and kelp. It is used as a gelling agent, thickener, and emulsifier in many food products and cosmetics, as well as in industrial applications. Alginates are polysaccharides that are composed of repeating units of beta-D-mannuronic acid and alpha-L-guluronic acid. The ratio of these two sugars determines the physical and chemical properties of the alginate.

Properties of Sodium Alginate

Sodium alginate is a white to yellowish-brown powder that is insoluble in water. It is soluble in hot water, dilute acids, and salt solutions. The gel strength of sodium alginate varies from weak to strong depending on the concentration of alginate, type of alginate, and ionic strength of the solution.

Applications of Sodium Alginate: The Food Industry

Sodium alginate is widely used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier, and gelling agent. It is commonly used in ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, and soup. Sodium alginate can also be used to stabilize emulsions and prevent syneresis (separation of liquids). It is also used in the processing of cheese and other dairy products.

Sodium Alginate in Papermaking

Sodium alginate is used as a binder in papermaking. It is added to the pulp before or during the forming process. Sodium alginate improves the strength and dimensional stability of paper.

Sodium Alginate in Textile Printing

Sodium alginate is used as a thickener and binder in textile printing. It is added to the printing paste to improve the print quality and to prevent the print from spreading.

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Sodium Alginate in Adhesives

Sodium alginate is used as an adhesive in the construction industry. It is added to mortar, plaster, and concrete to improve the bonding strength. Sodium alginate can also be used as a sealant in gaps and cracks.

The above-mentioned are the major applications of sodium alginate. There are many other industrial uses of sodium alginate such as in textile sizing, fire retardant fabrics, and oil spill containment.

Alginate Hydrogels

Alginate hydrogels are cross-linked networks of sodium alginate that can be used as biomaterials. Alginate hydrogels are biocompatible and biodegradable. They can be used in a variety of medical applications such as wound healing, drug delivery, and tissue engineering.

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