What is potassium sorbate?

Potassium sorbate

In chemistry there are many types of different substances , one of these types is known as a chemical additive which is a type of substance that is added to different types of food in order to improve its presentation and other qualities and at the same time to improve and increase the period of conservation of the same. An example of a chemical additive is potassium sorbate which, in addition to being used in food, can also be used in beverages and in some personal care products .

Potassium sorbate | What is it, characteristics, structure, properties, formulaWhat is potassium sorbate?

The potassium sorbate or potassium salt is a chemical additive which is formed of fatty acid unsaturated . It is a type of light preservative , an excellent fungicide and also a bactericide with high safety power.

  • Potassium sorbate characteristics
  • Source
  • Structure
  • Potassium Sorbate Formula
  • Nomenclature
  • Physical properties
  • Chemical properties
  • Applications
  • Dose
  • Potassium sorbate in food
  • Potassium sorbate benefits
  • Toxicity
  • Contraindications

Potassium sorbate characteristics

Some of its most representative characteristics are the following:

  • It is also known as E-202.
  • It is widely recommended by the World Health Organization due to its safety.
  • It has excellent antimicrobial properties .
  • It is also used as a preservative in food and beverages.
  • It is a type of salt that has no smell or taste .
  • Despite being an excellent preservative, it is not broad spectrum, so it is advisable not to use it alone.
  • When combined with other types of preservatives , avoid introducing calcium ions, this could cause precipitation .
  • It can be found naturally or it can also be produced synthetically when derived from sorbic acid.
  • It is also known as the potassium salt of sorbic acid.


Regarding its origin, potassium sorbate was discovered in the 1850s by the French who managed to obtain the product from the berries of the mountain ash . Over time, a lot of research has been done on this product and for that reason the Food and Drug Administration has recognized it as completely safe and useful when used correctly.


Its structure is shown below:

Potassium sorbate | What is it, characteristics, structure, properties, formula

Potassium Sorbate Formula

Its molecular formula is C6H7O2K .


Its IUPAC name is (2E, 4E) -hexa-2,4-potassium dienoate.

Physical properties

Its main physical properties are as follows:

  • It has a crystalline powder appearance .
  • It has a melting point that ranges from 132.00 to 135.00 degrees Celsius.
  • Its boiling point is between 233.00 ° C. at 760.00 mm Hg.
  • It is a product soluble in ethanol and glycol of propylene .
  • Potassium sorbate has no odor and is most often white in color, although it can also be found in pale yellow tones .
  • It has a pH of 2 – 6.5.
  • Its pKa value is 4.75.

Chemical properties

Its main chemical properties are mentioned below:

  • It has a molar mass of 150.2 g / mol.
  • When mixed, it has the ability to release acid which becomes its active agent .
  • It is considered to be a very heat stable product and can work even when faced with acidic pH.
  • Chemically, sorbic acid is a type of trans-trans 2,4 hexadienoic monocarboxylic acid that is also unsaturated and straight chain .


The main use of potassium sorbate is to act as a type of preservative in many foods because it has the ability to inhibit the growth of mold . It is commonly driven to products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, jams, and wines. It is also widely used within the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry , in the creation of personal hygiene products such as Soaps, where leftovers and toothpastes. In the field of cosmetics it is used to make lipsticks and moisturizing creams.


The dose of potassium sorbate will always depend on the function that it will fulfill in the product in which it has been added. So generally it sets up in dietary supplements of 1500 milligrams per kilogram of product. In the case of personal use, doses that will be ten milligrams per day are not recommended because a higher amount can lead to diarrhea and even kidney stones.

Potassium sorbate in food

In food, potassium sorbate is a product that is used on a large scale as it is one of the best that intervenes in the protection of food by preventing the proliferation of bacteria and fungi in them.

Potassium sorbate benefits

One of its main benefits is that it delays and even prevents the proliferation of organisms that may be present in food. In addition to reproducing this important effect, it also has the ability to combat different types of pathogenic microorganisms, mainly in the case of staphylococcus and salmonella, and at the same time it helps other microorganisms beneficial to the body to proliferate.

Adequate consumption of this product gives the ability to improve the body’s metabolic processes and make the body able to exercise a healthier and more balanced digestive process . In addition, it has the ability to improve the function of the nervous system and metabolism so it will increase life levels in many aspects, improves sleep levels , increases energy and concentration levels , the circulatory system It works in a more balanced way, it generates an important immunity to bacteria, it produces a greater feeling of satiety after eating.


Although potassium sorbate is cheap to make and buy, many scientists believe that excessive exposure to this product can be detrimental to the health of the human body. Different types of studies that have been carried out reported the presence of allergies and some complications in the DNA of the people who consumed it, therefore it is said that it is also genotoxic to white cells. Some of the tests carried out also showed that when it is combined with vitamin C, which is found in many types of food, it can cause DNA mutagenicity.


Potassium sorbate is contraindicated in people who have vitamin C treatments or in people who have reacted and have presented some type of allergic reaction against the product.

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