This is naturally occurring salt with the chemical property of NaNO2. It is similar yet different to sodium nitrate, so the two substances should not be confused. This chemical is a white, crystalline powder, although it may have a yellowish hue to it. It is highly soluble in water and produces a slight saline taste when ingested.
One primary use for sodium nitrite is in industrial chemistry. It can be used to produce a wide variety of chemicals and reactions, such as dyes and nitroso compounds, which are used in the rubber industry. Another primary use for sodium nitrite is in the curing of certain meats. Many deli meats such as salami or pastrami are cured in part by this chemical, as it provides a standardized method of preservation.
Unlike sodium nitrate, this substance is more toxic to humans, which means it should be handled with care. It can be a mild irritant to the skin and eyes, and ingestion of large quantities can be harmful. It should be stored in a cool, dry area.