Aqua regia

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Common name for an acid mixture that contains 3 parts Hydrochloric acid and 1 part Nitric acid. Aqua regia will dissolve all metals except Silver. In the 18th century, a block of tin was dropped in aqua regia to produce tin chloride. This dark red colorant was used in marbling book edges.

Synonyms and Related Terms

nitrohydric acid; yellow fuming liquid; nitro-muriatic acid; nitrohydrochloric acid; chloronitrous acid; chlorazotic acid; killed spirits


Used for testing gold and platinum


Toxic. Corrosive. Powerful oxidizing agent

Physical and Chemical Properties

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 404

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