Lead(II) nitrate

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Lead(II) nitrate is the inorganic compound with chemical formula Pb(NO3)2, and is one of the few examples of a water-soluble lead compound.

Properties

Chemical

Lead nitrate is prone to partial hydrolysis in water, giving neutral solutions a cloudy appearance. This can be rectified by the addition of a small amount of nitric acid to the solution. Given that lead nitrate is the most commonly encountered water-soluble lead salt, it is an important precursor to other insoluble lead compounds.

Physical

Lead nitrate generally appears as colorless or white crystals or powder, often with a dusty-looking outer surface. Lead nitrate is one of very few compounds of lead that is soluble in water. Even so, it is difficult to dissolve, often requiring a lot of stirring or heating to finally enter solution.

Availability

Due to the high toxicity of lead compounds, especially those that are water-soluble, it is unlikely that lead nitrate has any over-the-counter sources. Lead metal, however, is easily obtainable and can be used to produce it if nitric acid is available.

Preparation

Lead nitrate is slowly formed by the reaction between nitric acid and lead metal, and can also be produced at a much faster rate by dissolving lead oxides in nitric acid.

Projects

  • Make the bright yellow pigment chrome yellow (lead(II) chromate)
  • Make lead dioxide (for Ti/PbO2 electrode)
  • Make lead(II) azide

Handling

Safety

Lead nitrate, like other lead compounds, is highly toxic and is a cumulative poison that accumulates in the body. Being water-soluble, it is even more so, and should always be handled with gloves and skin protection, and the very strictest of measures should be taken to prevent its ingestion.

Storage

Lead nitrate is relatively unreactive and can be stored indefinitely, preferably in a labeled, difficult-to-open container to avoid accidental poisonings. However it is somewhat sensitive to water over time, so it's best to store it in a dry sealed container.

Disposal

All water-soluble lead salts should be dissolved in water and converted to lead carbonate or oxides, which are safer to handle. If the lead must be gotten rid of, these insoluble compounds should be taken to a facility that processes hazardous wastes.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads