Sodium citrate dihydrate is an organic salt of sodium and citric acid that contains two molecules of water. This compound, also known as trisodium citrate, is one of the three compounds that are formed when sodium hydroxide and citric acid neutralize each other to varying levels. Monosodium citrate and disodium citrate are the other two compounds produced.
The Uses of Sodium Citrate Dihydrate
Sodium citrate dihydrate has many uses that are both medical and non-medical; let’s take a brief look at them:
1. Medical Uses:
- As a form of medication, sodium citrate is used to make the urine less acidic to ease the discomfort related to certain diseases. For example, it can prevent kidney stones, get rid of uric acid more effectively, prevent gout, and also prevent certain metabolic diseases that are caused by kidney diseases.
- Citric acid and citric acid salts are part of a class of drugs known as urine alkalinizers.
- Sodium citrate is used as an anticoagulant to prevent blood stored in blood banks from coagulating. When mixed with the collected blood, this citric acid salt chelates with the calcium ion and makes it unavailable to continue with the process of blood clotting.
- It is also used as a locking agent in the vascular catheter and hemodialysis tubes instead of heparin, as sodium citrate is less likely to cause systemic anticoagulation.
- In 2003, it was successfully demonstrated that 0.5 grams of sodium citrate per kilogram of a person’s body weight can improve their running performance.
- It is an important ingredient used in the oral rehydration solution that is administered to patients of severe diarrhea to maintain the levels of osmotic fluids in their bodies.
- This compound is used as an antacid that is administered to pregnant women before they are subjected to a cesarean section surgery in order to prevent the emergence of any gastric content under anesthesia.
2. Non-medical Uses
- In the food processing industry, trisodium citrate is a commonly used food additive. It works as a preservative as well as a flavoring agent.
- It is used in a buffer solution to maintain the pH levels since it is the salt of a strong base and a weak acid. This is why it is typically used as an antacid. It is also used to maintain the acidity levels of gelatinous desserts.
- This compound is very effective in removing the carbonate scaling that forms on the inner walls of boilers from the deposition of carbonate salts when the water evaporates. For this reason, it is used in both boilers and radiators to remove the scaling without having to shut the system down to do so.
Side-effects of Sodium Citrate Dihydrate
- Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. These can be combated to some extent if the compound is consumed with water or juice and after meals rather than on an empty stomach. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen one must consult a doctor immediately.
- The less common but serious side effects that may occur are swelling of hands/ankles/feet, tingling or numbness in the palms or feet, and unusual weakness.
- Rare but equally dangerous side-effects of this compound include irregular heartbeats, unusual mood fluctuations, confusion or restlessness, seizures, and muscle spasms.
- An allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely but still possible. In case of rashes, itching, swelling of the body or face/tongue/throat, severe dizziness, and inability to breath, one needs to contact a doctor immediately.
Although the drug is not heavily regulated, it must be consumed only according to the instructions provided.