Pyrogallol

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  • Pyrogallol or benzene-1,2,3-triol is a benzenetriol. It is a white crystalline powder and a powerful reducing agent.
  • It was first prepared by Scheele 1786 by heating gallic acid. An alternate preparation is heating para-chlorophenol disulphonic acid with potassium hydroxide.
  • When in alkaline solution, it absorbs oxygen from the air, turning purple from a colourless solution.
  • It can be used in this way to calculate the amount of oxygen in air, notably via the use of the Orsat apparatus.
  • One can find its uses in hair dying, dying of suturing materials and for oxygen absorption in gas analysis.
  • It also has antiseptic properties. Pyrogallol was also used as a developing agent in black-and-white developers, but its use is largely historical except for special purpose applications. (Hydroquinone is more commonly used today.)
  • Though a popular photographic developing agent in the 19th and early 20th centuries, pyrogallol largely fell out of favor around the 1920s, though still used by a few notable photographers including Edward Weston.
  • In those days it had a reputation for erratic and unreliable behavior, due possibly to its propensity for oxidation.
  • Pyrogallol was tested in two independent bacterial mutation studies; both studies gave positive results in one or more strains of S. typhimurium or E. coli.
  • The current main commercial application of pyrogallol is the production of pharmaceuticals and pesticides.
  • In analytical chemistry, pyrogallol is used as a complexing agent, reducing agent, and, in alkaline solution, as an indicator of gaseous oxygen.
  • Pyrogallol was nominated for testing by private individuals based on its frequent occurrence in natural and manufactured products, including hair dyes, and the apparent lack of carcinogenicity data.

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