Food grade sodium nitrite

Discussion in 'Curing' started by cousinopey, May 20, 2013.

  1. cousinopey

    cousinopey Newbie

    I am a newb to curing meats and am an American(chef) living in Nepal. I really miss my corned beef and many other cured meats from back home and was looking into doing it myself. This is Nepal and there is no Prague Powder, Insta Cure, or any other curing product that I am aware of that contains sodium nitrite. We have an abundance of pink salt but that contains no sodium nitrite.

    I have been able to find sodium nitrite from a dye manufacturer but am concerned if it is food grade or not? Does anyone here have information regarding the differences between food safe sodium nitrite and that which is not?

    I would really appreciate any links or information from anyone that know. Thanks very much!
  2. Hello. I'm afraid I can't help with the specific question but you could check Nepal's regulations on have curing salt shipped from the U.S. or U.K..  I have things I can't get here shipped from the U.S..  The shipping costs may be eye-watering but needs must sometimes.  One other thought, search the web for an American food site in Nepal or India.  These co-ops do exist in many countries.  They may be able to help or at least tell you about the regs.  Good Luck.
  3. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I assume it has to be food grade. Insta cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt/sodium chloride. How hard is it to order online and go through customs
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  4. cousinopey

    cousinopey Newbie

    Thanks for the replies. I will look into some co ops never heard or thought of that.

    As far as getting things shipped here from US it costs around $100 per pound! To expensive unless I can get a discount through a co op order. It would just be easy/cost effective if I could use the sodium nitrite here, but am unsure of the food grade. Shipping from either India or China might be the best way to go.

    Anyone have knowledge of a good company in India or China to supply sodium nitrite or curing salts?

    But what makes sodium nitrite food grade or not? Is it just the purity or is it treated in some manner?

    Thanks again for the replies. The more I think about curing corned beef the more I salivate.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Purity makes it food grade.....  If you can find a laboratory supply, that will be food grade...  Then you have to dilute it to acceptable levels for easy use.....  It is highly poisonous if too much is ingested...   I found this Sodium Nitrite used in dying.... 99%... not food grade... Says so in the description....  

  6. cousinopey

    cousinopey Newbie

    Thanks for the info Dave. Unfortunately the link you gave has differing information. The header states 99% pure food grade, but then in the description it states not for food use. So which is it, lol? Reading the comments other users expressed similar confusion with no answer to being found.

    Looking at other sellers they sell 99% pure sodium nitrite and state it as being food safe, in the header and description.

    Also when you mention diluting the sodium nitrite are you referring to using 6.25% nitrite, and 93.75% sodium/salt? Or is there something more I need to do?

    Thanks again!
  7. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its food safe when mixed in the right amount with salt and sugar.

    Unless your going to make something else.  [​IMG]

    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  8. I definitely would not use it unless you know for sure it's food grade, there's no telling what weird stuff may be it it!!!!

  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's what I'd do....  6.25 grams + 93.75 grams salt...   This next part I'm not sure about but here goes......  Maybe Rick or Martin knows if this next step is Kosher....... 

    Since sodium nitrite is extremely soluble in water, dissolve it in distilled water, add to the salt and mix very well, add red food coloring or  some coloring agent.......  let the solution evaporate in an oven @ 225 F..... when totally dry, pulverize gently, wearing a mask and gloves, store in a container that is marked Cure #1 (as long as you make it 6.25%), and store away from kids in a safe place....
    That makes perfect sense to me......  but I'm gullible ...   and I believe everything you say...or write...    

  10. cousinopey

    cousinopey Newbie

    Still trying to figure this out but I talked with a chemist in the US. He stated that in the US for a chemical to be approved for food use, the equipment used to process the material must only be used for food safe substances and/or the equipment needs to have a costly and thorough cleaning.

    I think I am need to import sodium nitrite from the states, unless I can guarantee the quality/safety of the product here [​IMG]. Thanks all for your help!
  11. I think that might be safest.  Postage from U.K. might be cheaper?  Just a thought.
  12. expat smoker

    expat smoker Smoke Blower

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    Hi Cousin....

    I'm sort of in the same situation as you....I live in Thailand and have searched all over the country for Prague salt, but was only able to find a European version with .8%nitrite and seems most recipes use the American standard of 6.25%.  I was able to locate a chemical supply house that [claims] their nitrite is food grade.

    To make a long story short, I ended up in getting some proper Prague cure #1 mailorder from the states, sent to a friend, who re sent it to me in Thailand.  Original cost was $6.99/lb, but by the time I added postage to him, then international postage to me, the cost per pound came to about $35/lb. Nepal is a lot more remote than Thailand, but it seems that in Asia, we have to improvise and be resorceful or pay big $$.

    One idea would be to ask around about what the locals use to preserve meat.  I'm sure there are preserved meats there in Nepal.

    BTW.....hows the weather there now?? It's hotter than hekk here in Thailand and not too inspiring to do a hot smoke, but I'm going to go ahead with a couple of chickens that I had in an herbed salt brine.  Maybe you could stay with recipes that call for salt brines and not nitrites??

    Best of luck and let us know what you find


  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You said the Shipping may be at $100 a pound but considering the small amounts used, a Pound of Cure #1 will last a long time. Spread out over a couple of Years, $100 is Cheap...JJ
  14. expat smoker

    expat smoker Smoke Blower

    Hello again Cousin....

    Just out of curiosity, I checked the USPS international priority postage rates and they are the same for Nepal as Thailand for a small box that 2 lbs will fit into exactly.     $23.95....less than a week to Thailand.

    I had the order sent to my friend in California from The Spice House     and he sent to me in Thailand.

    The spice house shipping was about $20 for 4lbs. 

    That is one way to get it in a couple of weeks and the 2 lbs that I got will cure 800lbs of meat, so  really not too much if you look at it that way.  Maybe you can share costs with others that may be interested to bring costs down??

  15. terryfigg

    terryfigg Newbie

    Sodium nitrite is a salt and an anti-oxidant that is used to cure meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs. Sodium nitrite serves a vital public health function: it blocks the growth of botulism-causing bacteria and prevents spoilage. Sodium nitrite also gives cured meats their characteristic color and flavor. Also, USDA-sponsored research indicates that sodium nitrite can help prevent the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, an environmental bacterium that can cause illness in some at-risk populations.

    The amount of nitrate in some vegetables can be very high. Spinach, for example, may contain 500 to 1900 parts per million of sodium nitrate. Less than five percent of daily sodium nitrite intake comes from cured meats. Nearly 93 percent of sodium nitrite comes from leafy vegetables & tubers and our own saliva. Vegetables contain sodium nitrate, which is converted to sodium nitrite when it comes into contact with saliva in the mouth.

  16. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What about shipping from India? Even if these companies are dealing in volume/wholesale, they might be able to put you in touch with a more local distributor or retailer who would sell a pound or two reasonably.

    One more thought. "Food Grade" is more of a legal term and may be common to specific countries regulations. As an organic chemistry major in college (eons ago), 100% sodium nitrite, or "cure #1" which is a mixture of 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt, is just that. What makes it food grade generally is it meets some government inspection protocol. If you can find pure sodium nitrite, you can always mix it with common table salt like Bearcarver suggested to get the 6.25% ratio that is cure #1. It's sort of like those $25 screws on aircraft. They can come off the same assembly line and are made the same as the 2 cent Home Depot screws, but if the maker certifies them as "aircraft screws", they are magic $25 aircraft screws. The certification is the difference.

    Also will ship to Nepal. There is a slight surcharge (looks to be $4 or $5 US) and delivery is a couple of weeks.

    Although the USA's USDA rules pretty much require everything food related to have an expiration date stamped on the container, stored out of the heat, moisture and light, Sodium Nitrite & salt (cure #1) should be shelf stable pretty much indefinitely.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017

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