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A phosphate is chemical derivative of phosphoric acid. The phosphate ion, (PO3−
4), is an inorganic chemical, the conjugate base that can form many different salts. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid.
With the exception of alkali metal phosphates and ammonium phoshphates, phosphate salts are generally not soluble in water at standard temperature and pressure.
As a rule, the hydrogen and dihydrogen phosphates are slightly more soluble than the corresponding phosphates. Aqueous phosphate exists in four forms:
- In strongly basic conditions, the phosphate ion (PO3−
- In weakly basic conditions, the hydrogen phosphate ion (HPO2−
4) is prevalent.
- In weakly acidic conditions, the dihydrogen phosphate ion (H
4) is most common.
- In strongly acidic conditions, trihydrogen phosphate (H
4) is the main form.
Phosphates are readily available as fertilizer.
Phosphoric acid is sold in hardware stores as rust remover.
Handling and safety
Inorganic phosphates are generally non-toxic.