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Potassium bitartrate

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Potassium bitartrate
Systematic name potassium bitartrate
Other names monopotassium salt;
Cream; cream of tartar;
Potassium hydrogen tartrate;
Monopotassium tartrate;
Potassium acid tartrate;
Potassium Hydrogentartrate;
Tartaric acid,
monopotassium salt
Molecular formula KHC4H4O6
Molar mass Molar mass:: 188.18 g/mol
Appearance white crystalline powder
CAS number CAS number::868-14-4
Density and phase Density::1.984 g/ml
Solubility in water 0.006 g/mL (20°C); 0.0625 g/mL (100°C)
Melting point Melting point::230°C
Crystal structure monoclinic
MSDS [13]
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Related compounds
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Potassium Bitartrate is also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate. Potassium bitartrate is an ionic compound with potassium and another metal that acts as a compound of tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is a carboxylic acid, which is an organic compound with acidic properties containing a carboxyl group. Another potassium salt is potassium tartrate. [1]

Potassium hydrogen tartrate has many uses in cooking, baking, cleaning, metal tinning, photography, and textiles. It is formed through the wine making process when it separates from the wine and is collected. Potassium Bitartrate is then ground into a fine powder for household use.


The outer appearance of potassium bitartrate is a colorless or white powder. It is also soluable in water, but not in alcohol. [2]Heat increases potassium hydrate tartrate’s solubility of one gram able to be dissolved in 162 milliliters of water to one heated gram soluble in 16 milliliters of water. Potassium Hydrate tartrate separates from wine because it is insoluble in alcohol. When in liquid form, Potassium Hydrate tartrate has a pH of 3.5. [3]


Grape Stomping to Extract Lees
Potassium hydrogen tartrate crystals found on the underside of a wine cork

Cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine-making. When the grapes are stomped, the grape lees (the bits of grape that have no juice remaining) are left behind. These pieces are called argol, or beeswing. When the lees are processed with very hot water, the potassium bitartrate is released from the lees. The evaporation process removes the water, leaving behind pure potasium bitartrate and the lees. [4]
Cream of tartar originates when the argol ages to form tartaric acid flakes. These flakes are then filtered. After filtration, the flakes are combined with potassium hydroxide. This long process is ended when it is pullverized into the familiar powder known as cream of tartar and then packaged for purchasing. [5] When a wine is cold stabilized, the excess potassium bitartrate is removed. Wine contains unsettleable matter. These are mannoproteins, pectins, and other carbohydrates and polymeric carbohydrate structures. [6] Fermentation ordinarily occurs in food products and happens when carbohydrates form into alcohol and CO2. Fermentation is common in wine when the sugars in the alcohol separate from the wine. Commonly, crystals are found on the underside of a wine cork when wine bottles are stored below 10oC. This can also happen in grape juice if the juice is not used for a long time. [7]


Products containing Potassium Bitartrate

Potassium Bitartrate has many uses including cooking, baking, cleaning, and as a laxative. In cooking, Cream of tartar is useful for thickening and is commonly beaten into egg whites to help form stiff peaks. It can also be used to change the taste of foods. It is used in baked goods, candies, crackers, confections, gelatins, puddings, jams and jellies, soft drinks, margarines, and frostings like gingerbread house frosting. It can be used in the candy making process to crystallize sugar. [8] It was first used by the Persian svientist Jabir ibn Hayyan in 800 AD. It was available for use in food and cooking in 1769 by CW Scheele, who created the system currently used to extract the Potassium Bitartrate.[9]

Potassium Bitartrate is can also be used as a laxative. The Potassium Bitartrate releases carbon dioxide gases that put pressure on the intestinal wall, this pressure forces out excess masses. [10]
Potassium Bitartrate can be used to develop metals and change the color. it reacts well on Brass, copper, and aluminum for cleaning purposes.[11]
Potassium Bitartrate can also be used for making jellies, fruit preserves and fruit butters. [12] Cream of tartar also have unproven "home remedies." Potassium Bitartrate can be used to lower blood pressure by mixing one half cup water and two teaspoons cream of tartar. this remedy is also safe when with child, as using over the counter medications can cause pregnancy complications.
It is known to cure infections in the urinary tract with one tablespoon of water in water.[13]

Heath and Safety

Potassium hydroxide tartrate is listed as a non-toxic substance and is edible in its cooking and baking cream of tartar form. However, some precautions must be taken when using in a lab.
Goggles and lab coats are strongly recommended. it can also be an irritant to eyes and can be dangerous to the respitory system if inhaled.
In the case of contact with eyes, the eyes are to be flushed with warm water for 15 to 20 seconds. If the problem persists, medical attention is advised.
For extra safety precautions, keep potassium hydroxide tartrate away from flames to avoid fires. Also store it in a tightly sealed container. [14]


  1. Potassium Bitartrate Wikipedia, April 2011
  2. [1] 08/10/04, Environmental Health & Safety
  3. [2] Potassium Hydrogen Tartrate - Properties, Production, Uses
  4. [3] Thomson Gale, 2008
  5. [4] Monterey Bay Spice Company
  6. Wine Cold Stability Issues Christian Buckle, Springer 1996
  7. [5] Absolute Science
  8. [6] Thomson Gale, 2008
  9. [7] Monterey Bay Spice Company
  10. [8], 07/31/1996
  11. [9] Thomson Gale, 2008
  12. [10]
  13. [11] Side Effects of Consuming Cream of Tartar:, Donna Earnest-Pravel
  14. [12] Material Safety Data Sheet

Additional Information