Chemical Formula: C₆H₇KO₂
Grades: Spherical granular, column granular and powder forms available.
Packaging: Material is available in 25 kilo nett cartons. Custom packaging available if required.
Availability: Normally a stock item.
Material: Potassium sorbate is the potassium salt of sorbic acid. An organic compound, it takes the appearance of a white salt. It is highly soluble in water as well as in solvents such as ethanol, propylene and glycol.
Although sorbic acid occurs naturally in some berries, and indeed takes its name from the Latin for the rowan tree from which it was first isolated, almost all of the sorbic acid used in global potassium sorbate production is now manufactured synthetically.
There are several known ways to produce sorbic acid, but the one used commercially involves reacting crotonaldehyde and ketene to produce a polyester, which is then decomposed with hydrochloric acid, an alkali or with heat. The hydrochloric acid method involves no isomer production and is believed to offer the best quality and efficiency.
To manufacture potassium sorbate, the sorbic acid is then neutralised with potassium hydroxide.
Potassium sorbate is highly effective as an inhibitor of mould, yeast and fungi growth and is therefore widely used as a preservative in food production. Also known as E202, it is a common ingredient in soft drinks, cheese, yogurt, dried meats, dried fruit, baked goods and more. From the 1980s onwards, potassium sorbate has been the preferred method to restrict growth of the C. botulinum bacteria responsible for botulism.
Manufacturers of personal care products also commonly use potassium sorbate to inhibit growth of microorganisms in products like face creams, moisturisers and foundation make-up. The compound is often used to extend the shelf life of these products in place of parabens.
Potassium sorbate is also widely used in the wine industry as a stabiliser, and to a lesser extent in cider production. The addition of potassium sorbate after final fermentation kills any remaining yeast remaining in the wine or cider, ensuring no further fermentation can take place in the bottle.