Lead acetate

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A white, crystalline solid that is made by the action of Acetic acid on Lead plates. Lead acetate is highly poisonous. Fresh lead acetate is soluble in water, but with exposure to air, lead acetate absorbs Carbon dioxide, thus changing into basic lead carbonate which is incompletely insoluble in water. Lead acetate was a common Drier added to oil paints an varnishes. It has also been used as a Mordant for dyes on Cotton, for weighting Silk and for making some lead-chrome pigments. Indicating papers can be made with lead acetate that are sensitive to vapor phase Hydrogen sulfide (Waller et al 2000).

Synonyms and Related Terms

sugar of lead; lead sugar; salt of Saturn; plumbus acetate; lead diacetate; lead (II) acetate; lead dibasic acetate


  • Combustible.
  • Toxic by inhalation or ingestion.
  • Skin contact may cause irritation or ulcers.
  • Carcinogen, teratogen, suspected mutagen.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in water and glycerol.

Composition Pb(C2H3O2)2.3H2O
CAS 301-04-2
Melting Point 75 C
Density 2.55 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 325.3
Boiling Point 280 C

Resources and Citations

  • R. Waller, K.Andrew, J.Tetreault, "Survey of Gaseous Pollutant Concentration Distributions in Mineral Collections" Collection Forum, 14(1-2):1-32, 2000.
  • 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 Comment: p. 274
  • 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
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996 Comment: entry 5228
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998