Saccharin is unstable when heated but it does not react chemically with other food ingredients. As such, it stores well. Blends of saccharin with other sweeteners are often used to compensate for each sweetener's weaknesses and faults. A 10:1 cyclamate:saccharin blend is common in countries where both these sweeteners are legal; in this blend, each sweetener masks the other's off-taste. Saccharin is often used together with aspartame in diet carbonated soft drinks, so that some sweetness remains should the fountain syrup be stored beyond aspartame's relatively short shelf-life. Saccharin is believed to be an important discovery, especially for diabetics, as it goes directly through the human digestive system without being digested.
In its acid form, saccharin is not water-soluble. The form used as an artificial sweetener is usually its sodium salt. The calcium salt is also sometimes used, especially by people restricting their dietary sodium intake. Both salts are highly water-soluble: 0.67 grams per milliliter water at room temperature
Safety and health effects
Saccharin has no food energy. It has been suggested that it may trigger the release of insulin in humans and rats, as a result of its taste, but this has not been confirmed in controlled studies. This is similar for aspartame (another artificial sweetener). However large amounts of saccharin (corresponding to 4L of sweetened soft drinks per day) has been shown to lead to significantly increased glucose intolerance in mice and in some humans, likely due to interactions between saccharin and gut bacteria.
Saccharin, historical wrapping; Sugar Museum (Berlin)
Saccharin was produced first in 1878 by Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist working on coal tarderivatives in Ira Remsen's laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University. (As discussed below, the relative contributions of Fahlberg and Remsen to the discovery were later contested, with no final resolution in sight; the 1879 paper announcing the discovery lists both names as authors, with Fahlberg's name first.) Fahlberg noticed a sweet taste on his hand one evening, and connected this with the compound that he had been working on that day. Fahlberg and Remsen published articles on benzoic sulfimide in 1879 and 1880. In 1884, then working on his own in New York City, Fahlberg applied for patents in several countries, describing methods of producing this substance that he named saccharin. Two years later he began production of the substance in a factory in a suburb of Magdeburg, Germany. Fahlberg would soon grow wealthy, while Remsen merely grew irritated, believing that he deserved credit for substances produced in his laboratory. On the matter, Remsen commented, "Fahlberg is a scoundrel. It nauseates me to hear my name mentioned in the same breath with him."
Although saccharin was commercialized not long after its discovery, it was not until sugar shortages during World War I that its use became widespread. Its popularity further increased during the 1960s and 1970s among dieters, since saccharin is a calorie-free sweetener. In the United States, saccharin is often found in restaurants inpink packets; the most popular brand is "Sweet'n Low".