Anticaking agent

An anticaking agent is an additive placed in powdered or granulated materials, such as table salt or confectioneries, to prevent the formation of lumps (caking) and for easing packaging, transport, flowability, and consumption.[1] Caking mechanisms depend on the nature of the material. Crystalline solids often cake by formation of liquid bridge and subsequent fusion of microcrystals. Amorphous materials can cake by glass transitions and changes in viscosity. Polymorphic phase transitions can also induce caking.[2]

Some anticaking agents function by absorbing excess moisture or by coating particles and making them water-repellent. Calcium silicate (CaSiO3), a commonly used anti-caking agent, added to e.g. table salt, absorbs both water and oil.

Anticaking agents are also used in non-food items such as road salt,[3] fertilisers,[4] cosmetics,[5][6] and detergents.[7]

Some studies suggest that anticaking agents may have a negative effect on the nutritional content of food; one such study indicated that most anti-caking agents result in the additional degradation of vitamin C added to food.[8]


An anticaking agent in salt is denoted in the ingredients, for example, as "anti-caking agent (554)", which is sodium aluminosilicate. This product is present in many commercial table salts as well as dried milk, egg mixes, sugar products, flours and spices. In Europe, sodium ferrocyanide (535) and potassium ferrocyanide (536) are more common anticaking agents in table salt. "Natural" anticaking agents used in more expensive table salt include calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.

Diatomaceous earth, mostly consisting of silicon dioxide (SiO2), may also be used as an anticaking agent in animal foods, typically mixed at 2% rate of a product dry weight.[9]

List of anticaking agents

The most widely used anticaking agents include the stearates of calcium and magnesium, silica and various silicates, talc, as well as flour and starch. Ferrocyanides are used for table salt.[1] The following anticaking agents are listed in order by their number in the Codex Alimentarius by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.


  1. Lück, Erich; von Rymon Lipinski, Gert-Wolfhard (2000). "Foods, 3. Food Additives". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. doi:10.1002/14356007.a11_561. ISBN 978-3-527-30385-4.
  2. Mingyang Chen, Songgu Wu, Shiji eXu, Bo Yu, Mohannad Shilbayeh, Ya Liu, Xiaowen Zhu, Jingkang Wang, Junbo Gong (2018). "Caking of Crystals: Characterization, Mechanisms and Prevention". Powder Technology. 337: 51–67. doi:10.1016/j.powtec.2017.04.052. S2CID 99402519.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. "Anticaking Admixtures to Road Salt". Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  4. Rutland, D. W. (1991). "Fertilizer caking: Mechanisms, influential factors, and methods of prevention". Fertilizer Research. 30: 99–114. doi:10.1007/BF01048832. S2CID 12152189.
  5. Elmore, A. R.; Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (2003). "Final report on the safety assessment of aluminum silicate, calcium silicate, magnesium aluminum silicate, magnesium silicate, magnesium trisilicate, sodium magnesium silicate, zirconium silicate, attapulgite, bentonite, Fuller's earth, hectorite, kaolin, lithium magnesium silicate, lithium magnesium sodium silicate, montmorillonite, pyrophyllite, and zeolite". International Journal of Toxicology. 22 Suppl 1: 37–102. PMID 12851164.
  6. "Talc Information". Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  7. "Synthetic Detergents: Introduction to Detergent Chemistry". 2006-12-15. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  8. Lipasek, R. A; Taylor, L. S; Mauer, L. J (2011). "Effects of anticaking agents and relative humidity on the physical and chemical stability of powdered vitamin C". Journal of Food Science. 76 (7): C1062–74. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02333.x. PMID 22417544.
  9. "Diatomaceous Earth - How To Rid Bed Bugs Naturally - Organic". Retrieved 2022-04-17.
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