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Potassium Metabisulfite

Potassium Metabisulfite

Potassium metabisulfite (E224), 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. 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 sulfite and sulfur dioxide:

K2S2O5(s) → K2SO3(s) + SO2(g)

Uses

It is used as a food and beverage additive, also known as E224

In Winemaking

Potassium metabisulfite is a common wine or must additive, in which it forms sulfur dioxide gas (SO2). This both prevents most wild microorganisms from growing, and it acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting both the color and delicate flavors of wine.

A high dose would be 3 grams of potassium metabisulfite per six-gallon bucket of must (yielding roughly 75 ppm of SO2) prior to fermentation; then 6 grams per six-gallon bucket (150 ppm of SO2) at bottling. Most commercial wineries do not add more than 30 ppm at bottling. Some countries impose regulations on how much SO2 wines are allowed to contain.

Winemaking equipment is sanitized by spraying with a 1% SO2 (2 tsp potassium metabisulfite per L) solution.

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