Tartaric acid

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Colorless, transparent crystals that occur naturally in wine lees. Tartaric acid is used in baking powders (potassium hydrogen tartrate), leather tanning and effervescent beverages. Tartaric acid acts as a buffering agent and Sequestrant. It is used by dyers to print a blue ferric tartrate color and to remove some mordants from solution. Tartaric acid (and tartrates) reacts with ammonio-silver nitrate to produce metallic Silver; this reaction is used in photographic developing solutions and for silvering mirrors.

Chemical structure

Tartaric acid.jpg

Synonyms and Related Terms

tartar; dihydroxysuccinic acid; L-tartaric acid; racemic acid; uvic acid; Weinsäure (Deut.); Ácido tartárico (Esp., Port.); Wijnsteenzuur (Ned.)


  • Combustible. Flash point = 210 C
  • Corrosive.
  • Contact cause irritation and burns.
  • Fisher Scientific: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in water, ethanol, ether, glycerol. Insoluble in chloroform.
  • Smells of burnt sugar when heated.
  • pH = 2.2 (0.1 N solution)
Composition HOOC(CH2O)2COOH
CAS 133-37-9
Melting Point 170 C
Density 1.76 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 150.1

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 68
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 9235
  • S.R.Trotman, E.R. Trotman, Textile Analysis, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1932
  • 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
  • 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
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: pH = 2.2 (0.1 N solution)
  • Photographic chemicals: www.jetcity.com/~mrjones/chemdesc.htm