Determination of sodium content in the manufacturing of margarine

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This Application Note describes the determination of the total concentration of sodium in precursor solutions used in the manufacturing of margarine. The solutions of the precursors are mixed with edible fats and oils to make margarine. Traces of sodium chloride and other sodium and potassium salts may be added to the margarine during this process, usually in the form of emulsifiers, stabilizers, antioxidants, vitamins, coloring agents or flavor enhancers. The analysis of the total sodium content in the precursor solutions is more efficient and cost-effective for the manufacturers than later total sodium content analyses in the final product.

As a rule, argentometric titration of chloride is used for indirect determination of the sodium content of foodstuffs. The assumption behind this approach is that the chloride ions are present in a molar ratio of 1:1 with the sodium ions. This is however not the case when – as is usually the case with foodstuffs containing sodium – additional compounds containing sodium are also present in the margarine. The use of potassium chloride as a partial replacement for sodium chloride in some formulations is an additional source of error.

The direct titration of sodium by means of thermometric endpoint titration (TET) eliminates these problems. TET is a direct determination method that not only takes into account the entire sodium content present in the solution but is also not hampered by the presence of potassium ions.