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Oxalic Acid

=Oxalic Acid= is used by suicides, though not often by murderers. The

crystals closely resemble those of Epsom salts or sulphate of zinc;

oxalic acid has been taken in mistake for the former. It is in common

use for cleansing brass, in laundry work, for dyeing purposes, and

especially for bleaching straw hats.

Symptoms.--If a concentrated solution be taken, it acts as a

corrosive, causing a burning acid,
ntensely sour taste, which comes on

immediately, great pain and tenderness and burning at pit of stomach,

pain and tightness in throat. Vomiting of mucus, bloody or dark

coffee-ground matters, purging and tenesmus, followed by collapse,

feeble pulse, cyanosis and pallor of the skin; also swelling of tongue,

with dysphagia. In some cases cramps and numbness in limbs, pain in head

and back, delirium and convulsions. May be tetanus or coma. If taken

freely diluted, the nervous symptoms predominate, and may resemble

narcotic poisoning. Sometimes almost instant death.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Mucous membrane of mouth, throat, and

gullet, white and softened, as if they had been boiled; there are often

black or brown streaks in it. Stomach contains dark, grumous matter, and

is soft, pale, and brittle. Intestines slightly inflamed, stomach

sometimes quite healthy.

Treatment.--Warm water, then chalk, carbonate of magnesium, or

lime-water, freely. Not alkalies, as the oxalates of the alkalies are

soluble and poisonous. Castor-oil. Emetics, but not stomach-pump.

Fatal Dose.--One drachm is the smallest, but half an ounce is usually


Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--Mince up the coats of the

stomach and boil them in water, or boil the contents of the stomach and

subject them to dialysis. Concentrate the distilled water outside the

tube containing the vomited matters, etc., and apply tests.

Tests.--White precipitate with nitrate of silver, soluble in nitric

acid and ammonia. When the precipitate is dried and heated on

platinum-foil, it disperses as white vapour with slight detonation.

Sulphate of lime in excess gives a white precipitate, soluble in nitric

or hydrochloric acid, but insoluble in oxalic, tartaric, acetic, or any

vegetable acid.

=Oxalate or Binoxalate of Potash= (salts of sorrel or salts of lemon) is

almost as poisonous as the acid itself.