|Molar mass||128.097 g/mol, anhydrous
146.112 g/mol, monohydrate
|Density||2.12 g/cm3, anhydrous
2.12 g/cm3, monohydrate
|Melting point||200 °C (392 °F; 473 K) decomposes (monohydrate)|
|6.7 mg/L (20 °C)|
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
|what is: / ?)(|
Calcium oxalate (in archaic terminology, oxalate of lime) is a chemical compound that forms envelope-shaped crystals, known in plants as raphides. A major constituent of human kidney stones, the chemical is also found in beerstone, a scale that forms on containers used in breweries. Its chemical formula is CaC2O4 or Ca (COO)2.
Many plants accumulate calcium oxalate as it has been reported in more than 1000 different genera of plants. The calcium oxalate accumulation is linked to the detoxification of calcium (Ca2+) in the plant.
Calcium oxalate is a poisonous substance that can produce sores and numbing on ingestion and could even be fatal.
The poisonous plant dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) contains the substance and on ingestion can prevent speech and be suffocating. It is also found in rhubarb (in large quantities in the leaves) and in species of Oxalis, Araceae, taro, kiwifruit, tea leaves, agaves, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and Alocasia and in spinach in varying amounts. Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals are found in plant stems, roots, and leaves and produced in idioblasts.
Calcium oxalate, as 'beerstone', is a brownish precipitate that tends to accumulate within vats, barrels and other containers used in the brewing of beer. If not completely removed in a cleaning process, beerstone will leave an unsanitary surface that can harbour microorganisms. Beerstone is composed of calcium and magnesium salts and various organic compounds left over from the brewing process; it promotes the growth of unwanted microorganisms that can adversely affect or even ruin the flavor of a batch of beer.
Calcium oxalate exists in monohydrate and dihydrate form, which can be distinguished by the shape of its crystals. Calcium oxalate dihydrate crystals are octahedral. A large portion of the crystals in a urine sediment will have this type of morphology, as they can grow at any pH and naturally occur in normal urine. Calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals vary in shape, and can be shaped like dumbbells, spindles, ovals, or picket fences, the last of which is most commonly seen due to ethylene glycol poisoning. This latter form is what investigators discovered in the kidneys of two victims that ultimately led to the successful prosecution and conviction of murderer Lynn Turner, who poisoned both her husband and boyfriend with ethylene glycol-based antifreeze.
Urine microscopy showing calcium oxalate crystals in the urine. The octahedral crystal morphology is clearly visible.
Effects of ingestion
Even a small dose of calcium oxalate is enough to cause intense sensations of burning in the mouth and throat, swelling, and choking that could last for up to two weeks. In greater doses it can cause severe digestive upset, breathing difficulties, coma or even death. Recovery from severe oxalate poisoning is possible, but permanent liver and kidney damage may have occurred.
The stalks of plants in the Dieffenbachia genus produce the most severe oxalate reactions. The needle-like oxalate crystals produce pain and swelling when they contact lips, tongue, oral mucosa, conjunctiva, or skin. Edema primarily is due to direct trauma from the needle-like crystals and, to a lesser extent, by other plant toxins (e.g., bradykinins, enzymes).
Depending on the plant ingested, mild (Elephant Ear Colocasia esculenta) to more severe (Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema) can cause compromised airways. One bite on the Arisaema seed pod will result in immediate swelling and burning. It will take over 12 hours for the swelling to subside.
Calcium oxalate is used in the manufacture of ceramic glazes.
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- Martin, G; Matteo Guggiari, Daniel Bravo, Jakob Zopfi, Guillaume Cailleau, Michel Aragno, Daniel Job, Eric Verrecchia and Pilar Junier (2012). "Fungi, bacteria and soil pH: the oxalate–carbonate pathway as a model for metabolic interaction". Environmental Microbiology 14 (11): 2960–2970. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02862.x.
- Johnson, Dana (23 March 1998). "Removing Beerstone". Modern Brewery Age. Birko Corporation R&D. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- "Urine Crystals". https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/. Cornell University. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Nash, Alanna. "The Black Widow Killer: Two men. Two murders. Too many questions.". Reader's Digest. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- Outbreak of Food-borne Illness Associated with Plant Material Containing Raphides. Informa Healthcare.
- "CALCIUM OXALATE HUMMEL CROTON". Hummel Croton Inc. Retrieved 2012-05-02.