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Jun 1, 2009 10:05 AM

Pink Salt aka Saltpeter needed

Hi - I am looking to make my own pancetta, and I need some sodium nitrite aka pink salt aka saltpeter. Where is the best place to go for this?

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  1. Potassium nitrate is now a restricted substance under the Explosives act:


    1. You could try asking your butcher, or any butcher who cures meats. You want Prague Powder - sodium nitrite pre-mixed with salt. Specifically, you want Prague Powder #1; Prague Powder #2 additionally contains sodium nitrate, useful for long-term dry cures.
      I haven't found a local source for this but you can buy it from - located in B.C.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wapiti

        I've had luck getting some at Charcuterie Hongroise on Saint-Laurent Blvd.

        By the way, any Italian will tell you you don't need it to make pancetta. Salt it with sea salt, put on an inclined board for a couple of days in a cool basement to let the moisture drain away, rub it with pepper or red pepper flakes, hang it in a cool basement for three weeks, wiping away any mold as it appears with some wine. Best pancetta ever.

        1. re: alexthecook

          Thanks - I scored some Prague powder #1 from a friend, and I mixed in a couple of teaspoons just to kill anything nasty in the pig. This was a farm raised porker from Kingston, and weirdly enough, farm-raised pigs tend to have higher levels of bacteria. I know that most Italians will tell you that you don't need the nitrites...alas. Fortunately, I don't think the taste of the pancetta will suffer. I have it curing in my fridge as I type.

          Thanks for the advice about wiping the mold off with wine, I'll think about that after I hang it up.

      2. Just bumping this thread because I'm also on the lookout for Prague Powder and was hoping someone that knows a local source would stumble here with advice :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: afoodyear

          Saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate) is almost never used anymore this side of the Atlantic, has been replaced with Sodium Nitrate, which has the same beneficial qualities food-wise. Little cousin is Sodium Nitrite.

          Nitr(I)te provides the pink color associated with hams, smoke-meat and other goodies. Usually available already mixed with salt under the names Prague Powder #1/InstaCure #1.

          Nitr(A)te is used for long-term curing (e.g. Salamis) since it decomposes with time in Nitr(I)te. Usually available already mixed with salt under the names Prague Powder #2/InstaCure #2.

          Seems Anatol on St-Laurent near JTM could have it (at least that's what he told me, but he was out when I was looking for it, so I cant verify if/what he has available, but I suspect it would be #1 since he mentionned smoked meat at some point).
          Otherwise, you can try at Charcuterie Hongroise, owner was willing to part with some (they have something, but despite talking for a good 10 minutes, couldn't figure out if it was #1 or #2, so I passed).
          I got something that I'm still not sure about at a butcher shop on the northern side of JTM, that could be straight nitrite (that's what I was led to believe, no way to check any labels), that I then mixed with salt to cure my bacon. Since the Bacon was not really pink, I'm having my doubts as to whether it was straight nitrite or already diluted InstaCure #1 or equivalent.
          For next try, I will check out Anatol or order online at to be sure of what im using.

          1. re: sir_jiffy

            Thank you for your detailed response. With the confusion you seemed to have encountered, I think I'll just go through an online source!

        2. Saltpeter is available at pharmacies - I just bought some at Pharmaprix recently when I made Corned Beef for St. Patrick's day (I used Alton Brown's recipe). I'm not sure how this compares to Prague Powder, but given the thread's title, I thought I'd emntionit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeyMadness

            Thought I'd give a heads up. You can find pink salt at Marche Hawaii in St-Laurent.

            They're on Marcel Laurin just past Bombardier.

            Took some hunting but I found them on the end of the soy sauce aisle bottom shelf in a big white tub.

            Called Tusino Curing Powder


            Sugar, Maltodextrin, Salt, MSG, palm oil, potassium phosphate, garlic powder, citric acid, SODIUM NITRITE, caramel color, fd & c 3

            Had to post this up because I have been looking for this stuff for literally 3 years without success. Hope this is a rough equivalent to prague powder #1, will find out as soon as I get some new pork bellies.

            1. re: Zalbar

              Just a reminder that prague powder #1 is now generally known as "instacure#1" or even more broadly as "pink salt". Its a mixture of sodium nitrite (6.25%) and salt (93.75%).
              The Tusino Curing Powder MAY do the job (equivalent to instacure#1), but its not the same.

              I purchased instacure from an Italian market once, but it was very expensive. I'd suggest the on-line route, where you can buy an inexpensive 1lb or 5lb tub that will last quite awhile...

              And yeah, you can use saltpeter (potassium nitrate), or if you get your hands on it, sodium nitrite, to cure meats. Just a suggestion, though, know what you're doing...
              saltpeter isn't used anymore for reasons...
              pink salt is preferred over straight sodium nitrite for other reasons...

              Again, just my 2c

          2. Finally found what seems to be an appropriate cure.
            Called Cure 64 (Saumurage 64), contains 6.5% nitrite, mixed with salt and sodium bicarbonate and vegetable oil ( last two are specified as conditioning agents, whatever this may means, probably just used in the mixing process to combine the salt and nitrite crystals effectively). Instacure #1, formely known as Prague Powder #1, contains 6.25% of nitrite, so I think the future looks rosy.

            I will update pending the next Bacon slab.

            Use 3g/kg of meat for cooked sausage
            Use 30g + 150g salt/L for injection at 10-12%
            Use 6g + 100g salt/L for drenching (immersion in french so I guess brining???)

            3.95$ for a 1 kilo pouch, which should be enough for a couple hundred pounds of bacon...

            There was also a nitrate mix for dried sausages available and some sausage specific equipment.

            6005 Blvd Couture, between Lacordaire and Langelier, entrance on the side.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sir_jiffy

              I may be mistaken, but sodium bicarbonate can be used as an anti-caking agent.

              $4/kg, I think thats pretty cheap - sells pink salt at $10US/pound! I'll have to check this place out, thanks.