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Tartaric Acid

The Chemistry Of Tartaric Acid, Uses Of Tartaric Acid

Tartaric acid is an organic (carbon based) compound of the chemical formula C4H6O6, and has the official name 2,3-dihydroxybutanedioic acid. In this name, the 2,3-dihydroxy refers to the two OH groups on the second and third carbon atoms, and the butane portion of the name refers to a four-carbon molecule. The dioic acid portion communicates the existence of two organic acid (COOH) groups on the molecule. Tartaric acid is found throughout nature, especially in many fruits and in wine. In addition to existing freely, it is also found as a salt (salts are the products of acids and bases), the most common of which are calcium tartrate, potassium tartrate, and sodium tartrate.

Tartaric acid is used making silver mirrors, in the manufacturing of soft drinks, to provide tartness to foods, in tanning leather and in making blueprints. Tartaric acid is used in cream of tartar (for cooking) and as an emetic (a substance used to induce vomiting). It readily dissolves in water and is used in making blueprints. Tartaric acid is a molecule that demonstrates properties of optical activity, where a molecule can cause the rotation of plane-polarized light. Tartaric acid exists in four forms (isomers are molecular rearrangements of the same atoms), each of which affects plane-polarized light differently.

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