Acids, Bases and Salts

Tartaric Acid – Definition and its Uses

Tartaric Acid

Tartaric acid is an acid that is weak in nature and it is partially dissociated at the pH of wine according to the following equilibrium: H2T↔HT−+H+↔T2−+H+.

Definition of Tartaric Acid 

Firstly, it is a strong dicarboxylic acid C4H6O6 of plant origin that occurs in many isomeric forms. It is basically obtained from the tartar.

It is especially in food products and medicines as well. We also use it in photography, in the making of wine and also in making salts and esters.

It occurs naturally in a lot of fruits, most notably in grapes, also in bananas, in tamarinds, and citrus. The salt, potassium, and bi-tartrate of this acid are usually known as cream of tartar. It develops in the process of making wine.

tartaric acid

It goes on the market as a baking powder after mixing it with sodium bicarbonate and it comes in use in food preparation as a leaving agent.

The acid is added to foods that work as an antioxidant E334 and for imparting its distinctive sour taste.

It is an alpha-hydroxy-carboxylic acid. Therefore it is diprotic and aldaric in characteristics of acid, and it is also a di-hydroxyl derivative of succinic acid.

Examples of Trataric Aci

Further innovation came after a decade, when a mixture of a carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid i.e. baking powder became available, for example, tartaric acid, for instance.

The blending of grapes is a more natural, nuanced method of preparing it for deficiencies as compared to dumping in a bag of powdered tannins or tartaric acid.

Uses of Tartaric Acid 

  • It comes in use in the food industry as an additive and flavouring agent.
  • It also comes in use in industries as ceramics.
  • We also use it for textile printing and tanning.
  • Usable in photography and also pharmaceuticals.


Tartaric acid and the derivatives of the tartaric acid have a plethora of uses in the pharmaceuticals sector. For example, it comes in use in the production of the effervescent salts.

In combination with the citric acid for improving the taste of oral medications. The potassium antimony derivative of acid that is called tartar emetic is involved, in small doses, as an expectorant in cough syrup.

It also has multiple applications for use in industry. The acid serves in the industry of farming and metals as a chelating agent for adding micronutrients in soil fertilizer and cleaning of metal surfaces consisting of aluminium, iron, copper, and alloys of these metals.


Tartaric acid can perform in the following reaction:


History of Tartaric Acid 

It is popular for winemakers for centuries. A written record of the extraction of the tartaric acid was observed for the first time in 1832 by Jean Baptiste Biot. He observed the ability of tartaric acid to rotate polarized light.

Louis Pasteur continued the research in 1847 by the investigation of the shapes of sodium ammonium tartrate crystals, which was chiral.

By manual sorting of the differently shaped crystals, Pasteur was the very first to make a pure sample of levotartaric acid.

Commercial Production of Tartaric Acid 

By-products came from the wine manufacturers for the basis for the production of tartaric acid in a commercial manner. The sediments and the wastes that come from the fermentation of wine are heated with calcium hydroxide that is a base.

As a result, of this process, it causes calcium tartrate to produce a precipitate. We treat it with the sulfuric acid to form a combination of calcium sulfate.

Therefore, after the separation, the tartaric acid is purified for use commercially.

Solved Question for You

Ques. Tartar is a ______ ?

(A). Salt.
(B). Sugar.
(C). Base.
(D). Acid.

Ans. (D). Acid.

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