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Lithium carbonate
CAS number 554-13-2 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 11125
RTECS number OJ5800000
Molecular formula Li2CO3
Molar mass 73.891 g/mol
Appearance Odorless white powder
Density 2.11 g/cm3
Melting point

723 °C

Boiling point

1310 °C decomp.

Solubility in water 1.54 g/100 mL (0 °C)
1.32 g/100 mL (20 °C)
0.72 g/100 mL (100 °C)
Solubility insoluble in acetone and ethanol
Refractive index (nD) 1.428 [1]
Std enthalpy of
-16.46 kJ/g
Specific heat capacity, C 1.341 J/g K
EU Index Not listed
Main hazards irritant
Flash point Non-flammable
LD50 525 mg/kg
Related compounds
Other cations Sodium carbonate
Potassium carbonate
Rubidium carbonate
Caesium carbonate
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Lithium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula Li2CO3. This colorless salt is widely used in the processing of metal oxide and has received attention for its use in psychiatry. It is found in nature as the rare mineral zabuyelite.[2]



Like all other inorganic carbonates, Li2CO3 is polymeric. It is slightly soluble in water: only 1.33 grams dissolve in 100 mL at room temperature (298 kelvins). Its solubility decreases at higher temperatures. The isolation of lithium from aqueous extracts of its ores capitalizes on this low solubility. Its apparent solubility increases tenfold under a mild pressure of carbon dioxide; this effect is due to the formation of the metastable bicarbonate:

Li2CO3 + CO2 + H2O → 2 LiHCO3


Lithium carbonate is an important industrial chemical. It forms low-melting fluxes with silica and other materials. Glasses derived from lithium carbonate are useful in ovenware. Cement sets more rapidly when prepared with lithium carbonate, and is useful for tile adhesives. When added to aluminium trifluoride, it forms LiF which gives a superior electrolyte for the processing of aluminium.[3] Lithium carbonate can be used in a type of carbon dioxide sensor[4]. It is also used in the manufacture of most lithium-ion battery cathodes, which are made of lithium cobalt oxide.

Medical uses

Lithium carbonate is used to treat mania, the up phase of bipolar disorder. Lithium ions interfere with chemical reactions (sodium pump) that relay and amplify messages carried to the cells of the brain.[5] In mania there is an observed irregular, increase in protein kinase C’s (PKC) activity within the brain. A recent study has shown that lithium carbonate and sodium valproate, another drug traditionally used to treat the disorder, act in the brain by inhibiting PKC’s activity and help to create other compounds that also inhibit the PKC. Lithium carbonate is of little use for someone suffering from depression.[6]

Daily doses of lithium have been found to delay progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an Italian study of 44 people with the disease. No other treatment to date has shown such a dramatic effect on ALS.[7] Lithium carbonate is used to treat bipolar disorder

In 1843, lithium carbonate was used as a new solvent for stones in the bladder. In 1859, some doctors recommended a therapy with lithium salts for a number of ailments including gout, urinary calculi, rheumatism, mania, depression and headache. In 1949, Cade discovered the anti-manic effects of lithium ions. This knowledge led lithium, specifically lithium carbonate to be used to treat mania associated with bipolar disorder. Recently, topical lithium has been utilized in dermatological disorders, such as herpes viral infections. It is hoped that lithium will be used in the future as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-tumor agent. Lithium salts when used at low doses do not cause addiction, but do have a number of risks and side effects associated with their use, especially at higher doses.[8] Lithium intoxication affects the central nervous system and renal system and is potentially lethal.[9]


Lithium carbonate is found in fireworks, because lithium imparts a deep red to flames.


  1. ^ Pradyot Patnaik. Handbook of Inorganic Chemicals. McGraw-Hill, 2002, ISBN 0070494398
  2. ^ David Barthelmy. "Zabuyelite Mineral Data". Mineralogy Database. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  3. ^ Ulrich Wietelmann, Richard J. Bauer "Lithium and Lithium Compounds" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2005, Wiley-VCH: Weinheim.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Medical use
  6. ^ Aysegul, Y., Pauler, D. Perry, F. Arch. Gen. Psych. 2008. 65. 255.
  7. ^ MDA Research | Lithium Slows ALS Progression In Study
  8. ^ Ulrich, S. Jour. Tra. Micro. Tech. 1998. 149. 535.
  9. ^ Simard, M., Gumbiner, B., Lee, A., Lewis, H., and Norman, D. Arch. Int. Med. 1989. 149. 36.

For more information

Simple English

Lithium carbonate

Lithium carbonate is a chemical compound. Its chemical formula is Li2CO3. It contains lithium and carbonate ions.



Lithium carbonate is a white solid. It dissolves in water, although not as much as sodium carbonate. It reacts with acids to make carbon dioxide. It can react with carbon dioxide temporarily to make the bicarbonate.


It can be made by mixing lithium oxide or lithium hydroxide and carbon dioxide.


Lithium carbonate is used in various medications for treating bipolar disorder. It is also used in fireworks to make a bright red color. It is used in processing metal oxides. It can be used to make glass. It is used to glaze ceramics. It can also be used to dry cement. It is used in making lithium ion batteries. It is used in carbon dioxide detectors.[1]


Lithium carbonate is somewhat toxic. It is a base, and reacts with strong acids.


  1. Technical Information for Carbon Dioxide Sensors

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