L-(+)-Tartaric acid

November 11, 2008
Image of L-(+)-Tartaric acid

L-(+)-Tartaric acid, or "natural" tartaric acid, is abundant in nature, especially in fruits. Its primary commercial source is as a byproduct of the wine industry. It is used as an additive in many foods, such as soft drinks, bakery products, and candies. Industrial uses include tanning, ceramics manufacture, and the production of tartrate esters for lacquers and textile printing.

MOTW update: 
October 1, 2018

L-Tartaric acid is a wine industry byproduct that is used as a food additive and industrial chemical. Tartaric acid is also important in the history of chemistry because Louis Pasteur, who most people think of mainly as a biologist, used it to demonstrate molecular chirality. Pasteur’s notebooks that described his work, however, turned up missing after his death. For and account of how the “lost” notebooks were found, see this week’s issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

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