Lead(II) acetate

March 13, 2023
I'm sweet to the taste, but this toxin makes haste.
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Lead(II) acetate [Pb(OAc)2] is an inorganic salt with several uses, notably as an ingredient in dyes and mordants. Even though it is highly toxic (see the hazard information table), in the past it has been used as a sweetener and preservative in wines and other foods. It is commercially available as the anhydrous salt or the trihydrate1.

One of the earliest literature mentions of Pb(OAc)2 was in the 21st article in an 1878 series about polyiodides (e.g., KI3) by George Stillingfleet Johnson at King’s College London. Several articles from the 1890s cite Pb(OAc)2 in tests for whether it precipitates the anions of sodium or potassium salts under discussion. One of the salts was derived from what Pietro Biginelli at the University of Florence called “saligeninoxyacetic acid”, now more properly named 2-[2-(hydroxymethyl)phenoxy]acetic acid2.

Pb(OAc)2 can be made by boiling metallic lead in acetic acid in the presence of an oxidant; dissolving lead(II) oxide in acetic acid; or treating copper(II) acetate with the metal. The anhydrous salt and the trihydrate both have monoclinic crystal structures.

1. CAS Reg. No. 6080-56-4.
2. CAS Reg. No. 97388-49-3.


Lead(II) acetate hazard information*

Hazard class**GHS code and hazard statement
Serious eye damage/irritation, category 1H318—Causes serious eye damageChemical Safety Warning
Germ cell mutagenicity, category 2H341—Suspected of causing genetic defectsChemical Safety Warning
Carcinogenicity, category 2H351—Suspected of causing cancerChemical Safety Warning
Reproductive toxicity, category 1AH360—May damage fertility or the unborn childChemical Safety Warning
Effects on or via lactation (additional category)H362—May cause harm to breast-fed children
Specific target organ toxicity, single exposure, blood and nervous systems and kidneys, category 1H370—Causes damage to blood and nervous systems and kidneysChemical Safety Warning
Specific target organ toxicity, repeated exposure, blood, immune, and central nervous systems and kidneys, category 1H372—Causes damage to blood, immune, and central nervous systems and kidneys through prolonged or repeated exposureChemical Safety Warning
Short-term (acute) aquatic hazard, category 1H400—Very toxic to aquatic lifeChemical Safety Warning
Long-term (chronic) aquatic hazard, category 1H410—Very toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effectsChemical Safety Warning

*Compilation of multiple safety data sheets , some for the trihydrate.
**Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.

Molecules from the journals

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1. CAS Reg. No. 1420477-60-6.
2. CAS Reg. No. 488-82-4.
3. CAS Reg. No. 10323-20-3.
4. CAS Reg. No. 1114-34-7.

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Lead(II) acetate fast facts

CAS Reg. No.301-04-2
SciFinder nomenclatureAcetic acid, lead(2+) salt (2:1)
Empirical formulaC4H6O4Pb
Molar mass325.29 g/mol
AppearanceWhite crystals, granules, or powder
Melting point280 °C
Water solubility443 g/L (20 °C)
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