|Molar mass||325.29 g/mol (anhydrous)
|Appearance||White powder or colorless, efflorescent crystals|
|Density||3.25 g/cm3 (anhydrous)
2.55 g/cm3 (trihydrate)
1.69 g/cm3 (decahydrate)
280 °C (anhydrous)
|Solubility in water||44.39 g/100 mL (20 °C)
211 g/100 mL (50 °C)
|Solubility||anhydrous soluble in alcohol
hydrates insoluble in alcohol
|Refractive index (nD)||1.567 (trihydrate)|
|Crystal structure||Monoclinic (anhydrous, trihydrate)
|Main hazards||Neurotoxic, Probable Human Carcinogen|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
- "Lead sugar" redirects here.
Lead(II) acetate (Pb(CH3COO)2), also known as lead acetate, lead diacetate, plumbous acetate, sugar of lead, lead sugar, salt of Saturn, and Goulard's powder, is a white crystalline chemical compound with a sweetish taste. It is made by treating lead(II) oxide with acetic acid. Like other lead compounds, it is toxic. Lead acetate is soluble in water and glycerin. With water it forms the trihydrate, Pb(CH3COO)2·3H2O, a colorless or white efflorescent monoclinic crystalline substance.
The substance is used as a reagent to make other lead compounds and as a fixative for some dyes. In low concentrations, it is the principal active ingredient in progressive types of hair coloring dyes. Lead(II) acetate is also used as a mordant in textile printing and dyeing, as a drier in paints and varnishes, and in preparing other lead compounds.
Like other lead(II) salts, lead(II) acetate has a sweet taste, which has led to its use as a sugar substitute throughout history. The ancient Romans, who had few sweeteners besides honey, would boil must (grape juice) in lead pots to produce a reduced sugar syrup called defrutum, concentrated again into sapa. This syrup was used to sweeten wine and to sweeten and preserve fruit. It is possible that lead(II) acetate or other lead compounds leaching into the syrup might have caused lead poisoning in anyone consuming it. Lead acetate is no longer used in the production of sweeteners in most of the world because of its recognized toxicity. Modern chemistry can easily detect it, which has all but stopped the illegal use that continued decades after legal use as a sweetener was banned.
Resultant deaths 
Pope Clement II died in October 1047. A toxicologic examination of his remains conducted in the mid-20th century confirmed centuries-old rumors that he had been poisoned with lead sugar. It is not clear if he was assassinated.
In 1787 painter Albert Christoph Dies swallowed, by accident, approximately 0.75 ounces (21 g) of lead acetate. His recovery from this poison was slow and incomplete. He lived with illnesses until his death in 1822.
Although the use of lead(II) acetate as a sweetener was already illegal at that time, composer Ludwig van Beethoven may have died of lead poisoning caused by wines adulterated with lead acetate.
Lead acetate can be made by boiling elemental lead in acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. It's also possible to create with lead carbonate or lead oxide.
Other uses 
Lead(II) acetate, as well as white lead, have been used in cosmetics throughout history, though this practice has ceased in Western countries. It is still used in men's hair coloring products like Grecian Formula.
An aqueous solution of lead(II) acetate is the byproduct of the 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar used in the cleaning and maintenance of stainless steel firearm suppressors (silencers) and compensators. The solution is agitated by the bubbling action of the hydrogen peroxide, and the main reaction is the dissolution of lead deposits within the suppressor by the acetic acid, which forms lead acetate. Because of its high toxicity, this chemical solution must be appropriately disposed by a chemical processing facility or hazardous materials center. Alternatively, the solution may be reacted with sulfuric acid to precipitate nearly insoluble lead(II) sulfate. The solid may then be removed by mechanical filtration and is safer to dispose of than aqueous lead acetate.
See also 
- Pradyot Patnaik. Handbook of Inorganic Chemicals. McGraw-Hill, 2002, ISBN 0-07-049439-8
- Lead Poisoning and Rome
- Specht W and Fischer K (1959). Vergiftungsnachweis an den Resten einer 900 Jahre alten Leiche. Arch. Kriminol., 124: 61-84. [Translation:Intoxication evidence in the remains of a 900 year old corpse]
- Pharmazeutische Zeitung zu Beethovens wahrscheinlicher Bleivergiftung
- Beethoven litt unter Bleivergiftung
- Mary Seacole: Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, Chapter IV, (1990 Oxford University Press reprint) ISBN 0-19-506672-3; (2005 Penguin 20th Century Classics reprint, ed. Sarah Salih) ISBN 0-14-043902-1
- Jane Robinson: Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse who became a heroine of the Crimea, p.53. Constable 2004 (p/b. ISBN 1-84119-677-0)
- Gunn, Fenja. (1973). The Artificial Face: A History of Cosmetics. — as cited in Leisure Activities of an 18th Century Lady
- Lead Based Hair Products: Too Hazardous for Household Use - Results, Howard W. Mielke, PhD, Myiesha D. Taylor, Chris R. Gonzales, M. Kelley Smith, Pamela V. Daniels, and Ayanna V.Buckner. Journal of American Pharmaceutical Association (NS37, Jan/Feb 1997:85-89).
- The Project Gutenberg eBook of The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia M. Child
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Lead(II) acetate|
- Case Studies in Environmental Medicine - Lead Toxicity
- Essay on "Lead Poisoning and Rome"
- HowStuffWorks "What Kind of Hair Color Do Men Use?" discussion of progressive dyes containing lead acetate
- National Pollutant Inventory - Lead and Lead Compounds Fact Sheet
- ToxFAQs: Lead
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fact sheet "Lead Acetate in Hair Dye Products"
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)21CFR73.2396 "PART 73 -- LISTING OF COLOR ADDITIVES EXEMPT FROM CERTIFICATION, Subpart C--Cosmetics, Sec. 73.2396 Lead acetate"