What is it?

“Sodium nitrite is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaNO2. It is a white to slightly yellowish crystalline powder that is very soluble in water and is hygroscopic.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Sodium nitrite is restricted for use in cosmetics in the European Union. CosIng* has set the allowed “Maximum concentration in ready for use preparation” to 0.2%.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have registered that sodium nitrite is “toxic if swallowed, is very toxic to aquatic life and may intensify fire (oxidiser) and causes serious eye irritation.”

*CosIng is the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.

How is it used?

Sodium nitrite is mainly used as a rust inhibitor that works anticorrosive on materials and in products. The compound also has antibacterial properties, and is therefore also used to prevent bacterial growth in various products. It can for example be found in cosmetics, medicines, foods, and food additives.

Many processed meats contain sodium nitrites from manufacture as the compound is behind the red color of many meats. This is of concern because when sodium nitrites combine with proteins (amines) during cooking, toxic nitrosamines could be formed. Nitrosamines have multiple negative effects but are foremost known to be carcinogenic. (Note – Contamination from nitrosamines is not included as an effect as cosmetic products usually not are cooked)

The compound is on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines because of its use as an antidote to cyanide poisoning.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

Read about the other ingredients.


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