It is frequently used as a reducing agent: in acid solutions it reduces ferric to ferrous salts, arsenates to arsenites, permanganates to manganous salts, &c., whilst in alkaline solution it converts many organic nitro compounds into the corresponding amino derivatives.
In many cases it acts as a reducing agent (when used in the presence of acids); thus, permanganates are reduced to manganous salts, iodates are reduced with liberation of iodine, &c., 2KMnO 4 + 550 2 + 2H 2 0 = K 2 SO 4 + 2MnSO 4 + 2H 2 SO 4; 2K103+ 550 2 + 4H 2 O =1 3 + 2KHSO 4 + 3H2S04.
In aqueous solution the free acid acts as an oxidizing agent, bleaching indigo and liberating iodine from potassium iodide, or it may act as a reducing agent since it readily tends to pass into nitric acid: consequently it discharges the colour of acid solutions of permanganates and chromates.
The analysis of manganese dioxide in 1774 led him to the discovery of chlorine and baryta; to the description of various salts of manganese itself, including the manganates and permanganates, and to the explanation of its action in colouring and decolourizing glass.
He obtained selenic acid in 1827 and showed that its salts are isomorphous with the sulphates, while a few years later he proved that the same thing is true of the manganates and the sulphates, and of the permanganates and the perchlorates.