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Sodium phosphate

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Sodium phosphate
Trisodium phosphate.pngTrisodium phosphate 3D.jpg
Systematic name Trisodium Phosphate
Other names Sodium Phosphate Tribasic
Molecular formula Na3PO4
SMILES [O-]P(=O)([O-])[0-].[Na+].[Na+].[Na+]
Molar mass Molar mass::163.94 g/mol
Appearance White
crystalline solid
CAS number CAS number::760-54-9
Density and phase Density::1.620 g/mL
Solubility in water 1.5 g/100 ml (0°C)
8.8 g/100 ml (25°C)
Melting point Melting point::73.45°C
Boiling point (Decomposes)
Basicity (pKb) 2.23
Crystal structure Trigonal
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazard serious kidney damage
heart disease
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point Non- flammable
R/S statement R: kidney and renal damage
S: do not ingest large amounts
RTECS number TC9575000
Related compounds
Related compounds Monosodium Phosphate
Disodium Phosphate
Tripotassium Phosphate
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Sodium phosphate, also known as Trisodium Phosphate or TSP, is a phosphate combined with three sodium atoms. It has many uses today including toothpastes to whiten and strengthen teeth, but can also damage teeth as well. When mixed with water and/or bleach is a common way to clean floors and remove stains. It was also once used as a bowel cleaner in preparation for colonoscopies. When tested, such use was show to be dangerous because of the effect on the kidneys and renal tract. When ingested, TSP can cause kidney damage and colon cancer, renal cancer and kidney cancer due to it high phosphate content.


Trisodium phosphate powder

Sodium phosphate exists as a white, granular crystalline solid. In its purest form it can be found as a white powder. It has a low boiling point of 73.45°C. When put around a flame or hot temperature it is not flammable. Sodium phosphate reacts with water and bleach as a cleaning solution to remove stains on tile, wood and marble floors. [1]


The production processes for trisodium phosphate depends on the ratio of phosphoric acid to soda ash. The chemical equation of sodium phosphate is:

2H3PO4 + 3Na2CO3 → 2Na3PO4 + 3H2CO3

The Sodium phosphates are produced by an acid base reaction with phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide (sodium carbonate) in the reaction. Two Sodium Phosphate production facilities of the many in the world add potassium hydroxide and sodium chlorate to the reaction to stabilize the crystallization process that occurs later in the production process and the sodium chlorate is added as a bleach.
Phosphoric acid is used in the manufacturing of sodium phosphate and is produced off site of the sodium phosphate plant. If phosphoric acid is used in making food grade phosphates the phosphoric acid used will be of a food grade quality. The result of the reaction depends on the sodium/phosphate ratio in the reaction mixtures. Three sodium phosphate facilities make the product trisodium phosphate and disodium monohydrogen phosphate feed liquor.
The next steps in the making of sodium phosphate are to determine the wanted final product. To make pure sodium phosphate, the Rhodia-Chicago Heights facility mixes the feed liquor with varying amounts of sodium hydroxide to make the correct ratio of sodium/phosphate. After the ratio step, the trisodium phosphate streams are strained and sent to crystallizers. The vapors and gases from the crystallizers are scrubbed. Dust from the dryers is collected and is mixed with water. The dust from the packaging of the finished product is returned to the mixing reactor and sodium phosphate is produced. [2]


Sodium phosphate is sometimes put in toothpaste
Before sodium phosphate was tested and determined to be environmentally unsafe, TSP was used in a variety of laundry and dishwashing detergents. In the early 1970's the use of all phosphate was limited because of its effect on the balance of life in rivers, lakes, and streams. Phosphate eating algae thrive on phosphate, because they rapidly reproduce these phosphate algae removed most of the oxygen in the water leaving many plants to die.
Prior to TSP limitations, it was used to clean surfaces before painting and to remove mildew and stains. In its purest form TSP, is now commonly used as a cleaning agent. When mixed with Clorox bleach and water, TSP can remove mildew and other stains on carpet, hardwood floors and tile. [1] TSP can also be used for cleaning teeth. In some toothpastes, TSP is used as a plaque remover. [3]
Phosphate is sometimes mixed with bleach for cleaning not only is Sodium Phosphate used to clean floors, but is also put in food as a preservative. Sodium phosphate is put in food to prevent weird flavors in foods where metal ions are present. Some phosphorous compounds are put in soft drinks to make them fizz, (phosphoric acid), as well as keep canned vegetables firm (calcium phosphate). Sodium phosphate is used in dried instant oatmeal and soup mixes to make them easy to hydrate. In the 1990's nutritionists warn that eating too much phosphorous can fluster the body's ability to absorb calcium and raise the danger of osteoporosis. [3]

Related Compounds

Sodium dihydrogen phosphate- Sodium dihydrogen phosphate is the least toxic phosphate of them all. Put 1/5 of a teaspoon into 1 inch of water in a glass and mix for one minute. Fill the rest of the glass with water and drink the whole glass. If this is done daily the health of the teeth, bones will improve so will brain function. [4]

Disodium hydrogen phosphate- Disodium hydrogen phosphate is an acid salt used as a buffer and a controlling agent of the acidity of an environment. Disodium hydrogen phosphate also prevents the growth of bacteria on foods and is put in foods such as pastas and hot cereals to quicken cooking time. Disodium hydrogen phosphate is put in various cleaning agents working as a fungicide and sanitizer. This compound is also used as a flame retardant for wood and as a water softener. If disodium hydrogen phosphate is swallowed in its pure form it may irritate the respiratory system resulting in shortness of breath and coughing but on occasion pure disodium hydrogen phosphate can cause vomiting too. If in contact with the skin or eyes, it may cause redness and/or a allergic reaction. [5]

Sodium aluminum phosphate- Sodium aluminum phosphate is the mainly used as a leavening agent or an acid for mixing baking powders in baking. Leavening agents is what makes breads, cakes, and muffins rise. Sodium aluminum phosphate is predominantly used as a leavening agent because it slowly reacts with sodium sicarbonate, baking soda, in the mixing stage of baking, but once put in the oven it reacts quickly. Sodium aluminum phosphate is also an excellent enhancer for the properties of flour mixes. [6]

Health Risk

Do Not Eat

When large amounts of sodium phosphate are ingested, it is known to cause severe kidney damage and renal failure. In some cases kidney damage can be permanent or be treated through dialysis (a treatment to remove waste from the blood when the kidneys are not working well). [7] Not only does sodium phosphate cause kidney and renal damage; it may also cause colorectal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer ranks third in the US in terms of cancer diagnoses among both men and women.[8] Doctors fromTexas A&M University organized a study on the effect of oral sodium phosphate solution (OSPS), used for bowel preparation for colonoscopy, on the human body. Tests showed that OSPS should not be used in elderly patients. These doctors looked at 286 patients from 1998 to 2005, all of these patients showed no history of kidney disease and most of the patients were women averaging in age of 68. All patients followed a strict diet and took a phosphate solution in preparation for a colonoscopy. Six months after the procedure, they were compared with a group of 125 other patients that did not use OSPS as a bowel cleaning agent. Although most had similar characteristics, there was a notable difference in their renal function. As of 2006, the U.S. FDA put a black-box warning on the OSPS. This black- box warning recommends using with caution for users with damaged kidneys. However, the latest finding extends that concern to patients with no previous history of kidney trouble. [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 TSP... Cleaning for the Bing Dogs!! Unknown Author, G. George Ventures, Inc., Last Accessed on 02/05/11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Toothpaste, Toxic ingredients and Chemical Cocktails Go, Unknown Publisher, Last Accessed on 02/05/11.
  4. Save Your Teeth and Be Well - Good Teeth from Birth To Death Unknown Author, Unknown Publisher, Last Accessed 02/05/11.
  5. The Use of Disodium Phosphate Robin Wasserman, Demand Media, Inc., Last Revised 06/03/10.
  6. LEAVENING AGENTS Unknown Author, Unknown Publisher, Last Accessed 02/05/11.
  7. druginfo/meds/a609019 Sodium Phosphate by MedlinePlus, Last revised June 06, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Oral Sodium Phosphate Linked to Kidney Damage, Unknown Publisher, Last Accessed 02/03/11.