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Potassium metabisulfite

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  • Potassium metabisulfite, K2S2O5, also known as potassium pyrosulfite, is a white crystalline powder with a pungent sulfur odour. The main use for the chemical is as an antioxidant or chemical sterilant. It is a disulfite and is chemically very similar to sodium metabisulfite, with which it is sometimes used interchangeably.
  • Sulfur dioxide is reacted with aqueous solutions of potassium hydroxide and/or potassium carbonate by introducing reaction components simultaneously into an aqueous solution saturated with potassium sulfite and potassium bisulfite and reacting at temperatures between 50 and 80 degree Celsius. After reaction mixture has cooled deposited potassium metabisulfite is separated by a conventional method.
  • Potassium metabisulfite is generally preferred out of the two as it does not contribute sodium to the diet. Potassium metabisulfite has a monoclinic crystal structure which decomposes at 190 C, yielding potassium oxide and sulfur dioxide.
  • It is used as a food additive, also known as E224. It is restricted in use and may cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive persons. Potassium is an inhibitor of the polyphenol oxidase enzyme.
  • The winemaking industry uses potassium metabisulfite as an additive during the bottling process. When they add potassium metabisulfite to the wine, a sulfur dioxide gas forms, which destroys microorganisms in the wine and prevents molds and bacteria from growing inside the wine bottle.
  • Additionally, potassium metabisulphite is a strong antioxidant that protects the color and flavors of the wine. Without the use of potassium metabisulfite, wines would develop a stronger taste over time as the wine ages in the bottle.
  • One quarter teaspoon of potassium metabisulphite can treat approximately five gallons of wine.
  • Potassium metabisulfite is used in the textile industry for dyeing and cotton printing.

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