Lead Acetate

Lead acetate is a commercially important water soluble salt that can be made by dissolving the lead oxide litharge in acetic acid. The common trihydrate form of lead acetate is a white crystalline substance utilized for a variety of purposes, most notably as a drying agent in paints and as a mordant for dyeing and printing fabrics. The substance can also be used to produce certain other lead compounds. Unlike most other salts, this type of lead acetate has a sweet rather than a salty taste, resulting in its sometimes being called sugar of lead and its use in ancient Rome as a wine sweetener. Consumption of lead acetate and other varieties of lead is extremely dangerous, however, and some scholars believe that lead poisoning may have contributed to the mental deterioration and madness experienced by a number of Roman emperors.

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