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one of several oxygen acids of phosphorus, used as reducing agent in chemical analysis. It is a colourless or yellowish crystalline substance (melting point about 73 C, or 163 F) with a garliclike taste. An unstable compound that readily absorbs moisture, it is converted to phosphoric acid (H3PO4) in the presence of oxygen or when heated above 180 C (360 F). Phosphorous acid (H3PO3) forms salts called phosphites, also used as reducing agents. It is prepared by dissolving tetraphosphorus hexoxide (P4O6) or phosphorus trichloride (PCl3) in water.