How could you test that there's oxalic acid in potatoes.For example,

what chemical reacts to oxalic acid and then what will happen if it reacts?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you want to determine one compound, i.e. oxalic acid, in a broad mixture of others (potato), you need to first separate them, using i.e. chromatography. It is almost impossible to have a reaction so specific, that it reacts with oxalic acid and with nothing else. $\endgroup$ – ssavec Nov 25 '13 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ Why would you need such a test? Vegetables with a tongue-detectable amount of oxalic acid are edible (e.g. rhubarb). If for some reason you suspect that your potatoes were contaminated with oxalic acid, or that you have a cultivar which produces miniscule amounts of it, you can be sure that as long as it tastes like a potato, it's not harmful. It will have to taste about as sour as a lemon to start getting problematic, and I don't think anybody would eat such a sour potato. $\endgroup$ – rumtscho Oct 13 '14 at 19:42

If you want to determine the total content of oxalate you would need to extract it from the matrix with hot HCl 1M, for instance, since it will dissolve calcium oxalate crystals. Afterwords you can precipitate oxalate again at pH=4-5 with calcium nitrate, thus forming white crystals of calcium oxalate. You can redissolve them by adding sulfuric acid and identify oxalate by taking advantage of its reducing properties - if you add potassium permanganate it will be reduced from Mn +7 (purple colored) to Mn +2 (brown colour) and oxalate will be oxidized to carbon dioxide. But of course you start with a complex matrix, the easiest thing would be to use chromatography to separate and identify oxalate.


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