The citrates are a numerous class of salts, the most soluble of which are those of the alkaline metals; the citrates of the alkaline earth metals are insoluble.
Citric acid, being tribasic, forms either acid monometallic, acid dimetallic or neutral trimetallic salts; thus, mono-, diand tri-potassium and sodium citrates are known.
Several of the citrates are much employed as medicines, the most important being the scale preparations of iron.
Iron and quinine citrate is used as a bitter stomachic and tonic. In the blood citrates are oxidized into carbonates; they therefore act as remote alkalis, increasing the alkalinity of the blood and thereby the general rate of chemical change within the body.
The citrates act in precisely similar fashion, and may be substituted.