Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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oxalic acid

A dibasic, highly toxic acid (H 2 C 2 O 4 ) soluble in water and alcohol, and slightly soluble in ether. It occurs as the free acid in beet leaves, and as potassium hydrogen oxalate in wood sorrel and rhubarb. Commercially, oxalic acid is prepared from sodium formate (HCO 2 Na) It can also be obtained as a byproduct in the manufacture of citric acid and by the oxidation of carbohydrates with nitric acid (HNO 3 ) in the presence of vanadium pentoxide (V 2 O 5 ). It is used by some bookbinders to clear the leather before applying paste for tooling. It must be applied in very dilute solution, otherwise it will bleach the leather. It is also used in the manufacture of dyestuffs for cloth, in bleaching cotton linters and in the manufacture of ink. Potassium hydrogen oxalate is sometimes used to remove ink stains from paper. (15, 195 )

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