Lead(II) oxide is a useful precursor to a variety of other lead compounds, as it is amphoteric. It will react with acids to form lead(II) salts and will dissolve in strong bases to form the plumbite (PbO22-) anion, which can be oxidized to form plumbate.
Lead(II) oxide has a diverse appearance depending on the manner in which it was produced, ranging from pale orange or apricot-colored to bright yellow, orange, or even red. It is typically encountered as a crusty or fine powder. When lead(II) oxide is heated, it temporarily becomes deeper and more saturated in color, for example changing from a light tan or apricot powder to a rich yellow. It is insoluble in water.
Lead glass contains the oxide, though it's impractical to extract it from it.
Lead(II) oxide can be produced either by the oxidation of lower lead oxides or calcination of lead(II,IV) oxide at temperatures over 605 °C. An easier route is thermal decomposition of lead(II) carbonate, which is easily produced by precipitation from any soluble lead(II) salt, but this produces a less colorful product.
- Lead glass
- Water-proof cement
Like most lead compounds, lead(II) oxide is very toxic if consumed, causing long-term lead poisoning and inhaling the dust can cause headaches and dizziness.