Acidum Tartaricum, B.P. Tartaric Acid.

Botanical name: 

C4H6O6 = 150.048.

Tartaric acid, dioxysuccinic acid or dihydroxysuccinic acid, (CHOHCOOH)2, is prepared from argol or other residues from wine making, or from acid potassium tartrate. It should contain 99 per cent. (U.S.P., 99.5) of hydrogen tartrate. It occurs in colourless and odourless translucent crystals.

Soluble in water (1 in 1), alcohol (1 in 3).

Action and Uses.—Tartaric acid is wholly or partly neutralised in the intestine, and a small portion is absorbed; the greater amount, however, passes through the alimentary canal as sodium tartrate, and acts as a saline aperient, tending to make the stools more watery. The portion absorbed is for the most part oxidised and excreted in the urine as carbonate, which renders the urine less acid. Tartaric acid is employed to make saline draughts, and cooling drinks for febrile and diabetic patients; if un-neutralised it must be taken well diluted or severe gastro-enteritis may ensue. The following are the proportions of tartaric acid and various carbonates required to form neutral mixtures:—

Tartaric Acid, 10, will neutralise
. . Ammonium Carbonate, B.P. about 7
Magnesium Carbonate, B.P. " 6 ½
Potassium Bicarbonate " 13 ¼
Potassium Carbonate (Anhydrous) " 9 ¼
Potassium Carbonate (Commercial, K2CO3.1-½H2O) " 11
Sodium Bicarbonate " 11 ¼
Sodium Carbonate (Anhydrous) " 7
Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3.10H2O) " 19

Tartaric acid is incompatible with alkalies and carbonates, vegetable astringents, and salts of potassium, mercury, calcium, and lead. In cases of poisoning by tartaric acid, chalk, lime or saccharated solution of lime should be given freely. The administration of the alkali carbonates should be avoided.

Dose.—3 to 12 decigrams (5 to 20 grains).


Tartaric acid, in crystals, 12.5; alcohol, 25; distilled water, to 100.

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.