Finally... for some time I have espoused not using cola in a curing brine... FACTS follow...

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by daveomak, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Please avoid adding acidic ingredients to your curing brine...

    Acidic curing brines..

    Never add acidic ingredients to a curing brine.... I was discussing this with N4YNU, a member here, relating how I couldn't find evidence to verify that statement... Well, younger eyes were able to provide certified reason for that statement.. Thanks much Guy.... Dave


    When adding curing salts to brine, it's important that the brine not be too acidic. A highly acidic solution will cause the curing salts to very rapidly decompose into nitric oxide, which is dangerous as a concentrated gas. So don't add vinegar to the brine, and never mix liquid smoke (which is acidic) directly with curing salts.


    You'll need to make sure the pH is 4.8 or above. If the Coca Cola is the only thing in the brine, it will be too acidic.


    Poison Facts:

    Low Chemicals: Nitric Oxide


    Properties of the Chemical

    At room temperature, nitric oxide is a colorless gas with a sweet odor. It is

    slightly soluble in water, but is highly reactive. Although the gas itself is nonflammable,

    it will accelerate combustion and increase the risk of fire and

    explosion in combustible and flammable materials.

    Uses of the Chemical

    The main sources of nitrogen oxides emissions (including nitric oxide) are

    combustion processes. Fossil fuel power stations, motor vehicles and domestic

    combustion appliances emit nitrogen oxides, mostly in the form of nitric oxide.

    The chemical is used occupationally in the bleaching of rayon and in the

    manufacture of nitric acid. Nitric oxide can be present at significant concentrations

    in ambient and indoor air. It is used medically by inhalation to produce

    selective pulmonary vasodilation and to improve oxygenation in patients with

    various forms of pulmonary hypertension.

    Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME)

    Nitric oxide is a gas; therefore, absorption can only occur through the eyes and

    lungs. However, it will have contact effects with the skin. In the presence of

    moisture and oxygen, corrosive conditions will develop as a result of the

    formation of nitric and nitrous acids. The major proportion of inhaled nitric

    oxide reaches the deeper parts of the lung and reacts with hemoglobin in

    erythrocytes to form nitrosylhemoglobin which is converted immediately to

    nitrite and nitrate. The nitrite and nitrate are then transferred to the serum, and

    the greater part of the nitrate is excreted into the urine through the kidneys.

    Most of the inhaled nitric oxide is eventually eliminated from the body as


    Clinical Effects of Acute Exposure

    Nitric oxide is a skin, eye and mucous membrane irritant. This is due to the fact

    that moisture and oxygen convert nitric oxide into nitric and nitrous acids. The

    most hazardous effects of nitric oxide are to the lungs. Inhalation causes

    symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath, along with a burning in the

    throat and chest. Patients may experience nausea and fatigue. Some pulmonary

    symptoms may be delayed several hours. Methemoglobinemia may also occur.

    In-Field Treatment Prior to Arrival at a Health Care Facility

    Remove the patient from the contaminated area. Nitric oxide’s effects on the

    lungs increase upon exertion. All patients should be carried from the contaminated


    Flood skin and eyes with water.

    If patient is experiencing difficulty breathing, coughing that does not resolve

    with fresh air or tightness in the chest, administer oxygen if available. All

    patients with pulmonary symptoms should be transported to the emergency


    Special note to first responders:

    Wear a positive-pressure Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).

    Wear chemical protective clothing that is specifically recommended by the


    Treatment of Exposures in a Health Care Facility

    When the patient arrives at the health care facility, irrigate eyes and skin with

    copious amounts of water.

    Monitor for respiratory distress, and administer oxygen or assist with

    ventilation as necessary. Treat bronchospasm with inhaled beta2 agonists.

    Pulmonary edema may develop and is a delayed effect.

    Methemoglobinemia may occur because nitric oxide has a high affinity for

    hemoglobin. It is the most rapidly binding ligand of hemoglobin currently

    known and oxidizes reduced hemoglobin to methemoglobin.

    Acidosis may occur secondary to anoxia.

    Anticoagulation: Nitric oxide has been shown to inhibit both platelet

    adhesion and aggregation.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
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  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good post and One more reason we say, Curing Meat with Cure #1 and Cure #2 should not be attempted until you have a full understanding of how and when these chemicals are used...JJ
  3. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great post Dave !!

    Let alone the fact that colas are mostly corn syrup. Yuk. 

    Better to stick with cane sugars for brine..
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
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  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Points for a great post Dave!
  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave. I would still be wary about using the Chefsteps article as a reference source as at the top of the page it clearly points out that

    "ChefSteps ingredient wiki pages are community-edited. If you see incorrect information, please fix it or report it".

    Whilst it does state that "When adding curing salts to brine, it's important that the brine not be too acidic. A highly acidic solution will cause the curing salts to very rapidly decompose into nitric oxide, which is dangerous as a concentrated gas." it neither defines what it means by "highly acidic" or at what concentrations of Nitric Oxide is deemed to be toxic or how rapidly the Nitrite will decompose. The only reference it offers on the page are to a general Wikipedia page on Curing Salt, which is somewhat lacking in content.

    You highlight the article regarding the toxicity of Nitic oxide, however Nitric Oxide has been widely used pharmaceutically over the years. The Ppm concentrations of Nitrite that we see in a brine are very unlikely to be able to produce Nitric Oxide in concentrations that approach toxic levels. Pouring vinegar directly onto pure Nitrite powder and directly inhaling above it may possibly do it though. The biggest issue with increasing the acidity of the brine would be more about the effect of losing the Nitrite concentration rather that of Nitric Oxide production. This is a bit of an unknown at the moment and I know we have both been looking for references on it.

    I think that you/we probably still need to keep looking to find evidence to support the statement "Never add acidic ingredients to a curing brine...." as the overall pH of the solution will be dependent on a number of different factors - including overall final concentration. Adding a cup of vinegar to a gallon of brine is unlikely to have much of an effect on the final pH whereas making a brine completely out of vinegar would be very different. A few tablespoons of liquid smoke added to a gallon of brine are also likely to have little effect on the final pH.

    Edited to remove the reference to Nitrous Oxide
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wade, you never cease to amaze me.... 
  7. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave. I think you are deliberately missing the general point of my response. I do concur with your point about Nitrous Oxide and so have removed it from my previous post. We are all human and I admit to sourcing that non-fact from Wikipedia - the same general source of information that Chefsteps use as the supporting reference in their community pages that initiated your post.

    Reading your post you are clearly using the Chefsteps article to support a statement that you should "Never add acidic ingredients to a curing brine"
    Reading that article, I am sorry, but it does not support the statement in any meaningful way. If the point is actually "Avoid using brine that is too acidic" then I would agree with you - but if you are using the article as your evidence to "never" add acidic ingredients to a curing brine then I am disappointed in you.

    As out of the 691 words in your post 550 of them (almost 80% of your post) were devoted to how poisonous Nitric oxide was, I assume therefore that a major point you are trying to make is how poisonous the nitric oxide is that could potentially be produced by an acidified brine. With the starting levels of Nitrite that would be present in a brine solution this is unlikely anyway and without any data regarding the rate at which the Nitric Oxide might be formed, how much remains in solution and how much is released into to air over time there is no supporting evidence for this in the article that you cite. Alternatively, if your point was to point out the dangers of Nitrite being broken down thus reducing the amount of available Nitrite in the cure itself - then I would be in agreement with you.

    I did not want anyone relatively new to curing who was looking for good sound factual information from SMF to read your article and take away an extreme interpretation of your post. That is how many urban myths on sites like this are started.

    edited to correct spelling
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I use ACID in Salt Brines for Pork and Poultry with great success. With a Curing Brine, my biggest concern would be acid degrading the Nitrite and rendering it's Antibacterial power ineffectual...JJ
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  9. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That was the point I was trying to make at the end. I probably could have expressed it more clearly.
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wade, you are so quick to critique and criticize without the teensiest bit of research on your own....    The absolute least you could have done is search for some proof that my post was legitimate, which I do believe it is, before slamming the door finding fault....  So what is your point trying to disprove my topic without any research of your own...   another pissing contest across the Atlantic.. 

    Do some research and prove me wrong or correct... or please don't post on this thread....
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OK folks, here's the deal.....   I read an article that stated, "Do not add cola to a curing brine"...  No support for that statement whatsoever... 

    So on several occasions I mentioned it purely with safety in mind....  

    Then in discussions with N4YNU about that same point, Guy took it upon himself to help me out and see if he could locate something to substantiate that "vague" statement.....   I'm glad he dove in, trying to help us all, and search it out....   He found two valuable points why cola should not be added to curing brines...   Here, here!!! to Guy for having our best interest at heart... 

    It appears it's the acidic element of cola that has effect on the sodium nitrite...   Without going into detail, to the "common man" that cures a few hunks of meat now and then, the original statement of "Don't add cola to a curing brine" would sufficient...   I'm sure there's a long detailed reaction, involving chemistry, that would bore most, including me, to death...

    Well, at times that doesn't always sit well with me so with Guy's expertise and due diligence, a reasonable explanation was located and I passed it on so anyone on this forum that needed more info, it was there.... 

    After reading the info Guy located, I changed the opening statement to, "Never add acidic ingredients to a curing brine" ....   I feel that's adequate and self explanatory....  

    For those of you whom feel the need to pick the poor thing to death and find fault with my intentions,  ....................................
  12. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Post deleted following our crossed posts. - Cheers for the explanation Dave [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  13. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dave that makes perfect sense. Thanks for the explanation.

  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Nitric Oxide can cause health problems. However, it has also been approved for use at doses of inhalation gas for NEW BORN Babies at 40ppm for Pulmonary Vasodilation. Frankly I think we have little to worry about as even 200ppm Sodium Nitrite in 1Gallon of Brine is very Dilute and will make nowhere near the FDA Approved 40ppm Nitric Acid Gas and definately not Clinical Toxicity of 80ppm!

    Now it has been 30 years since my Advanced Chemistry Class and have no desire to do the math to find the Exact amount of Gas that will be generated from 200ppm Nitrite in 3785.41g of water and adding 354.88g Cola at a pH of 2.52...

    Just an educated wild ass guess...While adding Cola or Acid of any kind to 100 or 1000 gallons of Curing Brine in an insufficiently ventilated, 120sqft Cold Room used to inject Hams, May be a Very Bad Idea!  I highly doubt there is anything to worry about, Nitric Acid wise, adding Cola to ONE Gallon of Pops Brine.  

    Now getting back to Acid or Cola inactivating Sodium Nitrite? That is enough reason to not do it! The rest is arguing a moot point, Unless there are any Chemists here, who can show a TOXIC amount of Nitric Oxide, 80ppm, will come from 1 Gallon of 200ppm Brine...JJ[​IMG]

    Taken from a Trusted Medical Journal...

    Pulmonary Vasodilation

    The primary demonstrated clinical indication for inhaled nitric oxide is hypoxic respiratory failure associated with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). In 1992, Roberts et al. and Kinsella et al. reported that inhaled nitric oxide produced rapid and significant increases in oxygenation in term and near-term infants with PPHN, without detectable toxicity. In late 1999, positive findings in several randomized clinical trials led the Food and Drug Administration to approve inhaled nitric oxide for open-label use in these patients (Davidson et al., 1998Day et al., 1996The Neonatal Inhaled Nitric Oxide Study Group, 1997Roberts et al., 1997Wessel et al., 1997). A recent meta-analysis has also confirmed the clinical efficacy of inhaled nitric oxide for the treatment of PPHN (Finer and Barrington, 2000). Low doses of inhaled nitric oxide have been reported to be clinically effective, and most current dosing recommendations do not exceed 40 ppm. At this dose, there is little measurable short-term toxicity. Indeed, it is noteworthy that in the large randomized trials of inhaled nitric oxide, major clinical toxicity (e.g., methemoglobinemia) was observed only at doses ≥ 80 ppm (Davidson et al., 1998Wessel et al., 1997). However, even low doses of inhaled nitric oxide may exert toxicity at the cellular level, potentially leading to long-term pulmonary complications. In this regard, nitrotyrosine residues have been detected in the lungs after 10 days of life in 2 of 12 infants who required prolonged ventilation and were treated with nitric oxide (up to 20 ppm) for 1–4 days (Hallman et al., 1998). These findings suggest that endogenous nitric oxide can alter proteins in the lung. Adverse outcomes have also been observed at clinical doses during weaning from nitric oxide, since rapid withdrawal can result in severe rebound pulmonary vasospasm (Atz et al., 1996Cueto et al., 1997). 
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
  15. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No kidding.. this thread lost it's usefulness.. 

    What benefit would cola have in a brine anyway? It's corn syrup and artificial everything else..
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2016
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  16. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There are lots of Recipes and great Marinades using Cola, ( Coke is flavored with a Natural Extract of a Nut and Spices ) and Soda or Pop in general. It gives meat a good flavor.

    Corn Syrup is bad? It's a Plant Sugar, same as Cane Sugar, Beet Sugar even Maple Syrup. Yes there are some differences chemically but in the Body it is like the others. A Carbohydrate and provides 4 Calories per Gram, just like any other Sugar. The Bad Press and all the hysteria? HFCS is Cheap, is in virtually everything Sweeted and for sale in the " Center Isles " of a grocery store. The result? For the high density population of inner cities and folks across the country with low or subsidized Income... 2Liters of Coke and a BIG BOX of Fruit Loops is cheaper than a basket load of Fresh Fruit, Organic Oat Cereal and a Gallon of Milk! Obesity and Diabetes is at an all time high and something or somebody needs to be blamed. HFCS is the current bad guy. However, Public outrage is causing a shift to Cane Sugar as a sweetener. Stick around...In 10 years, folks will be saying, " What benefit would cola have in a brine anyway? It's got Real Sugar and artificial everything else." [​IMG]

    As far as the thread usefulness? There is good info here and Dave posted for informational purposes.  As with lots of Technical Data, there is going to be discussion and/or debate and, from time to time misunderstandings arise. Still a valid caution to not mix Cure and Acid...JJ
  17. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Another day and the sun is shining
    Hi Dave, yes your intentions were certainly good and anything that reduces the expected amount of Nitrite in a brine is not good. The emphasis in your post though on the toxicity hazards of Nitric oxide I think may have been a little misguided when referring to brine concentrations of Nitrite. When/if it is released some of the Nitric Oxide will remain in solution and as it is quite reactive with Oxygen and is readily mopped up by reacting with metallic ions and proteins that are released by the cut meat, it will have a very short half life. Unfortunately without knowing at what rate the NO will be produced as pH varies then it is currently guesswork as to whether toxicity levels are anywhere near being approached. It seems highly unlikely that they would be though.

    You mentioned that Guy had found two valid points as to why cola should not be added to curing brines. Have you shared these or were they general comments to do with the breakdown of Nitrite in acidic conditions. Were these cola specific or do they equally apply to other acidic solutions too?

    You mentioned a specific pH of 4.8 above witch it seems the brine needs to be kept. Where is this from? What I will try to do over the next few days is get a pH meter from work and see just how dilute things like Coke or vinegar need to be in order for the pH to move above 4.8. I have no idea at the moment so it will be an interesting experiment. It may help to  identify the scale of any issue with adding these types of ingredients to a brine.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  18. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    How come adding ascorbic acid to bacon cures is not a concern then?
  19. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That will have to be passed back to Dave to answer as he started the discussion regarding the safety concerns of using acidic components in a brine. To date I have not managed to find any evidence that either supports his claim or refutes it - but that does not mean that what he says isn't correct. IF it is OK to use ascorbic acid but not other acidic components it MAY be down to the resulting pH once it has been added. I think we need to wait and see more details of where Dave has got this information from before we can really discuss meaningfully.
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent find for those interested in the possible effects.....   Good searching....  

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