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Characters are imprisoned in a glass-walled jail and use citric acid as one component of a concoction to dissolve the glass. It was in a low-grade pulp magazine around 1950.

  • Possible dupe? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/63540/… – Valorum May 13 '15 at 17:51
  • Sadly, it was citric acid and it was glass. I remember that part because I was a little kid with a Gilbert chemistry set and I knew that was impossible. As I said, pulp fiction. I think they were served orange juice or something, that's how they got it. – Zack Bass May 14 '15 at 17:54
  • I am sure this was never anthologized, it was not very good. I can't even be sure of the size but it was cheap paper. They (I think two characters) were held by aliens and they were not on Earth, so I'm not sure where the citric acid came from. – Zack Bass May 15 '15 at 3:27
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It's "The Double Minds", a short story in The Planeteers, one of the Penton and Blake tales by John W. Campbell. My Google search turned up this AbeBooks discussion and that led me to the Google Books excerpt that mentions the glass cell and the citric acid.

"Citric acid-crystallized acid of lemon. Sucrose - commonly sold under the name of sugar. Ethanol - otherwise ethyl alcohol. Carbonic acid - in no way related to the one with an 'I' in it - better liked as soda water...."

Although you do misremember it slightly in that that was one of the things Penton brewed up, but only as a drink to restore their strength. The second was the "universal solvent" they used to escape the glass cell.

According to user14111, "Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories August 1937, the "low-grade pulp magazine" the OP read it in "around 1950" was probably Fantastic Story Magazine, Winter 1954." The other story typically released in the same book, The Ultimate Weapon, was serialized in Amazing in 1936.

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