Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is an aminopolycarboxylic acid with the formula [CH2N(CH2CO2H)2]2. This white, water-insoluble solid is widely used to bind to iron (Fe2+/Fe3+) and calcium ions (Ca2+), forming water-soluble complexes even at neutral pH. It is thus used to dissolve Fe- and Ca-containing scale as well as to deliver iron ions under conditions where its oxides are insoluble. EDTA is available as several salts, notably disodium EDTA, sodium calcium edetate, and tetrasodium EDTA, but these all function similarly.
The compound was first described in 1935 by Ferdinand Münz, who prepared the compound from ethylenediamine and chloroacetic acid. Today, EDTA is mainly synthesised from ethylenediamine (1,2-diaminoethane), formaldehyde, and sodium cyanide. This route yields the tetrasodium EDTA, which is converted in a subsequent step into the acid forms: 2b1af7f3a8