Cream of tartar

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Common name for Potassium bitartrate. Cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine making. It is used as a flavorant in cooking, as a mordant in dyeing fibers and as a reducing agent in glass making. Cream of tartar, in combination with salt and alum, is also used for soldering and tinning of metals. Mixed with water or vinegar, it has been used as a cleanser for encrusted metal objects, such as coins and kitchenware.

Synonyms and Related Terms

potassium bitartrate; supertartrate of potass; potassium acid tartrate; potassium hydrogen tartrate; beeswing; Weinstein (Deut.); crème de tartre (Fr.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Flame test gives purple color

Composition KC4H5O6
CAS 868-14-4
Molecular Weight 188.177

Resources and Citations

  • R. Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Viking Press, New York, 1981
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • John and Margaret Cannon, Dye Plants and Dyeing, Herbert Press, London, 1994