What is Oxalic Acid?
Oxalic acid is an organic compound with the formula C2H2O4. It is a white crystalline solid that forms a colorless solution in water. Its condensed formula is HOOCCOOH, reflecting its classification as the simplest dicarboxylic acid.
Acid strength is much higher than that of acetic acid. Oxalic acid is a reducing agent and its conjugate base known as oxalate (C2O2−4) is a chelating agent for metal cations. Typically, oxalic acid occurs as the dihydrate with the formula C2H2O4 · 2H2O.
It occurs naturally in many foods, but excessive ingestion of oxalic acid or prolonged skin contact can be dangerous. It got its name from the fact that early researchers obtained oxalic acid by separating it from flowering plants of the genus Oxalis, known as sour clover.
The preparation of oxalic acid salts from plants dates back to 1745, when Dutch botanist Herman Boerhaave isolated a salt from sourdough (sorrel). In 1773, Swiss scientist François Pierre Savary isolated oxalic acid from the salt in sorrel.
In 1776, Swedish chemists Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Torbern Olof Bergman produced oxalic acid by reacting sugar with concentrated nitric acid; Scheele named the resulting acid 'sugar acid'. By 1784, Scheele stated that "sugar acid" from natural sources was the same as oxalic acid.
How is Oxalic Acid produced?
Oxalic acid (Crab Acid) is mainly produced by the oxidation of carbohydrates or glucose in the presence of vanadium pentoxide using nitric acid or air. Various precursors can be used, including glycolic acid and ethylene glycol. A newer method requires oxidative carbonylation of alcohols to yield oxalic acid diesters:
4 ROH + 4 CO + O2 → 2 (CO2R)2 + 2H2HE
In addition, oxalic acid can be prepared in the laboratory by oxidizing sucrose using nitric acid in the presence of a small amount of vanadium pentoxide as a catalyst.
What does Oxalic Acid look like?
In white, crystalline solid form
What is the molecular formula of Oxalic Acid?
Molecular formula: C2H2O4
In which sectors is Oxalic Acid used?
- Color stabilizer in dyeing processes
- rust removing agent
- In bleaching agents
- In lanthanide chemistry
- in the beekeeping industry
- In the aluminum anodizing process
- In teeth whitening products
What are the uses (processes) of Oxalic Acid?
- About one fourth of the oxalic acid produced is used as a color stabilizer in dyeing processes.
- It is used as a third reagent in bleaches, particularly wood pulp, rust removal and other cleaning, baking soda, and silica analyzers.
- Oxalic acid is used in cleaning or bleaching processes to remove rust on the iron surface. It is functional in rust removal agents because it forms a stable water-soluble salt with its ferric form and ferrioxalate ion.
- Oxalic acid is an important reagent in lanthanide chemistry.
- Oxalic acid is used by some beekeepers as a tick killer against the parasitic varroa mite.
- Oxalic acid is used to clean minerals.
- Oxalic acid is sometimes used in aluminum anodizing with or without sulfuric acid.
- Oxalic acid is used in the content of some teeth whitening products.
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