Trisodium Phosphate



Trisodium phosphate is also known as trisodium orthophosphate, sodium phosphate or TSP. It is a chemical, a water-soluble ionic salt ,that acts as a cleaning agent, food additive and degreaser. TSP is a white, granular or crystalline solid that produces an alkaline solution when mixed with water. It is often sold partially hydrated and is used commonly as an acid reducer in a variety of foods. It is also used to help blend fats with other ingredients, providing an improved texture. TSP is found in butters, cereals, meat products, processed cheeses and canned soups. It acts as a leavening agent in commercial cakes and baked goods.

Other use and industries

Trisodium phosphate is sometimes used as a nutritional supplement that improves exercise performance. It was once widely used in consumer-grade soap, but is not often used in the West anymore due to concerns that it is harmful to the environment. TSP is used as a degreaser to clean laundry and driveways. It is present in flux that is used for hard soldering joints in medical grade copper plumbing. TSP has been used in ceramics to lower the flow pH of glazes and to clean walls prior to painting.

Health effects

The FDA claims that Trisodium phosphate in certain amounts is not a risk in food, but some reports and agencies have deemed it a hazardous substance. The Clean Water Act has taken steps to limit the use of TSP in cleaning supplies because it damages the environment. Phosphates are required of the human body, however trisodium phosphate is an inorganic chemical phosphate. There are other organic sources of necessary phosphates that are proven to be safe and beneficial for consumption. TSP has not been proven to be toxic to humans as a food additive, but has shown to be severely irritating to the gastric mucosa unless part of a buffered solution. Trisodium phosphate may reduce accumulation of lactic acid in muscles. Excess intake of TSP may produce an imbalance of minerals that lead to loss of calcium from bone and a calcification of the kidneys. The daily limit of trisodium phosphate is recommended to be 70mg. TSP consumed as part of a Western junk food diet sometimes reaches upwards of 500mg, which leads to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.


TSP was at one time widely used in soaps and detergents, but awareness of its harmful impact on the environment has greatly reduced its popularity as a cleaning agent. An inorganic phosphate, it is sometimes used as a pH buffer, surfactant, detergent, food-grade additive, emulsifier and food preservative. Trisodium phosphate has the chemical compound Na3PO4.
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