Chelating agent

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Applying poultice


A heterocyclic ring compound that can attract and hold a metal ion. Chelating agents are used to remove traces a metals in solutions, such as Zinc, Iron, Copper, Manganese, and Cobalt. They are added to detergents to minimize and precipitation or discoloration caused by unwanted metal ions. Chelating agents are also used in water softeners. Examples of chelating agents are ammonium citrate, Benzotriazole (BTA), ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), calcium phytate, nitrilotriacetic acid, n-hydroxyethylethylenediaminetriacetic acid (HEDTA), hemoglobin, deferoxamine type B, Chlorophyll, as well as several simple organic acids like Oxalic acid, Malic acid. Rubeanic acid and Citric acid.

Synonyms and Related Terms

chelator; chelation, sequestering agent; EDTA; Trilon; Komplexone; Tritriplex; Calgon®

Resources and Citations

  • AIC-FAIC Global Conservation Forum: Chelating Molecules (discussion from Dec. 2023)
  • AIC BPG Wiki: Chelating Agents Bibliography compiled by Theresa Smith, Buffalo State University.
  • Reissland, Birgit and Frank Ligterink (2011) The Iron Gall Ink Website Maintained by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.
  • Wikipedia: (Accessed Oct. 18, 2005)
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • 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. 190
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • The Dictionary of Paper, American Paper Institute, New York, Fourth Edition, 1980
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Richard C. Wolbers, Nanette T. Sterman, Chris Stavroudis, Notes for Workshop on New Methods in the Cleaning of Paintings, J.Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, 1990
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988