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oxalic acid

oxalic acid (ŏksălˈĭk) [key] or ethanedioic acid ĕthˌāndĪōĭk, HO2CCO2H, a colorless, crystalline organic carboxylic acid that melts at 189°C with sublimation. Oxalic acid and oxalate salts are poisonous. Oxalic acid is found in many plants, e.g., sorrel and rhubarb, usually as its calcium or potassium salts. Oxalic acid is the only possible compound in which two carboxyl groups are joined directly; for this reason oxalic acid is one of the strongest organic acids. Unlike other carboxylic acids (except formic acid), it is readily oxidized; this makes it useful as a reducing agent for photography, bleaching, and ink removal. Oxalic acid is usually prepared by heating sodium formate with sodium hydroxide to form sodium oxalate, which is converted to calcium oxalate and treated with sulfuric acid to obtain free oxalic acid.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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