Salt and vinegar potato chips are a polarising topic; you either love them or loathe them. Living with vinegar haters can make life hard, but with the help of just two extremely common ingredients, your family won’t have to battle it out in the chip aisle.
Picture: Gloria Cabada-Leman
My own house is divided on the topic — I’m obsessed, but my husband thinks they “smell like poison” — meaning we usually end up “settling” on a bag or plain chips. (Just kidding! We buy two different bags!) Sadly, I have yet to find shakers of vinegar powder (aka “sodium acetate”) for sale, I have found a way to whip up a batch at home.
It involves a bit of chemistry, but don’t worry. If you ever made a volcano for a grade school science fair, you’ve got this. Using a simple acid-base reaction between vinegar (HC2H3O2) and baking soda (HC2H3O2,) both acid and base are neutralised and a salt (in this case our vinegar powder, NaC2H3O2) is formed, along with water and carbon dioxide:
NaHCO3 + HC2H3O2 → NaC2H3O2 + H2O + CO2
As with any experiment, you should read the full instructions over at Instructables, but the basic method is this (It’s a little smelly, but totally worth it for salt and vinegar enthusiasts.):
- Slowly add small portions of white vinegar to a heaping tablespoon of baking soda, stirring after each addition. Once the mixture stops fizzing, even with stirring, the acid-base reaction is complete and you’re left with sodium acetate (the good stuff) in water.
- Next, boil off the water by microwaving the mixture for three five-minute segments followed by a few one-minute bursts until you start to hear sizzling. (It should still be mostly liquid.)
- Blow across this saturated solution to form crystals, let cool, and dry on a coffee filter-lined bowl.
- Sprinkle on everything. This stuff is great on popcorn, almonds, and of course potato chips. Extra credit if you make your own, either in the microwave or by traditional frying.
Now husbro — and your own household vinegar hater — can have his untainted crisps and the rest of us are free to sprinkle on the sour goodness with wild abandon.
How to Make Sodium Acetate from Household Ingredients [Instructables]
Acid-Base Reactions [Georgia State University]