5 Facts You Should Learn about Hydrochloric Acid
Hydrochloric acid is found in a wide variety of products that range from fertilizer products to textiles. It also has domestic uses, and it can even be found within the human body. This versatile substance is useful in a wide variety of industries and products today, but it’s not without its unique drawbacks. It can be very harmful to humans if used without proper safety precautions. The following list is a short primer on five essential things you need to know about hydrochloric acid.
- Hydrochloric acid appears in the human body as an integral component in the digestive system. Secreted by the parietal cells, it enters the lumen of the stomach, where it functions as a significant portion of gastric acid. Hydrochloric acid works to activate pepsinogen, thereby forming an enzyme called pepsin. Pepsin works to break amino acid bonds during the proteolysis process, an event that, in a nutshell, amounts to protein breakdown.
- Its physical presentation can be recognized in several ways. This acid is generally colorless or slightly yellow, and it presents with a distinct and irritating odor. The same things are true of hydrogen chloride, the gas that forms when hydrochloric acid comes in contact with water.
- Humans have known about hydrochloric acid for a long time. Originally produced from green vitriol and rock salt, and later a combination of sulfuric acid and common salt, it’s also known as muriatic acid, acidum salis, and spirits of salt.
- Its uses range from domestic cleaning products in the United Kingdom to the large-scale production of the dichloroethane and vinyl chloride used in PVC manufacturing around the world. It’s also used to ready metals like iron or steel for processes like extrusion or rolling by removing iron oxide or rust. Once free of these impurities and blemishes, metal can be shaped more quickly and smoothly.
- Due to its highly corrosive nature, great care must be taken when handling hydrochloric acid. Skin contact can result in serious burns, while inhalation can irritate the respiratory tract. Swallowing this type of acid can corrode mucous membranes, stomach, and esophageal tissues. Long-term exposure for people working with hydrochloric acid can result in chronic health conditions like dermatitis, bronchitis, and photosensitization. Safety protocol has been established in conjunction with this acid in its industrial and domestic uses so that humans may employ it for its benefits without being harmed in the process.
Recognizing Hydrochloric Acid
Now that you know a little bit more about hydrochloric acid, you should be able to see that it’s present in a plethora of applications around the world. So, the next time you visit a chemical supplies store and you see containers with the various names for hydrochloric acid, you’ll have a better idea of their uses. Often, domestic projects can present the most danger for those utilizing hydrochloric acid because those embarking on do-it-yourself projects usually don’t use this type of acid on a daily basis. Therefore, to prevent injury or improper usage, a little education can go a long way for those embarking on a home improvement project involving this type of acid. A visit to hvchemical.com will help to clarify questions you may have and provide you with information you might find useful in your future applications of this and other acids and chemicals.
Back to Blog