Sulfuric acid is defined as a strong acid with oxidizing and hygroscopic properties. Sulfuric Acid is also a mineral acid having the chemical formula H2SO4.
About Sulfuric Acid
Sulfuric acid is also called either Oil of vitriol or Mattling acid. It holds a strong acidic nature, and it is corrosive. At higher concentrations, this compound acts as a dehydrating agent and oxidizing agent. It is a syrupy liquid which is colourless with no odour. It releases heat when dissolved in water, and it is water-soluble. It can be widely used in fertilizer manufacturing. Also, it can be used in wastewater processes and in chemical synthesis.
Anhydrous sulfuric acid contains a dielectric constant of around 100, and it is a polar liquid and perhaps the most essential heavy industrial chemical, with large-scale uses in a wide range of industries.
Let us look at the sulfuric acid structure, which is represented as follows:
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Properties of Sulfuric Acid – H2SO4
Physical Properties of Sulfuric Acid
Chemical Properties of Sulphuric Acid
Because the hydration reaction of the sulfuric acid is highly exothermic, the dilution should always be performed by adding the acid to the water rather than adding water to the acid. Because the reaction is in an equilibrium that favours the rapid protonation of water, the addition of acid to water ensures that the acid becomes the limiting reagent. This reaction is the best though for the production of hydronium ions:
H2SO4 + H2O → H3O+ + HSO−4 Ka1 ≈ 103 (which is a strong acid)
HSO−4 + H2O → H3O+ + SO2−4 Ka2 = 1.0×10−2 
Here, HSO−4 is given as the bisulfate anion, whereas, SO2−4 is given as the sulfate anion. And, Ka1 and Ka2 are the constants of acid dissociation.
Because sulfuric acid hydration is thermodynamically favourable and its affinity for water is sufficiently strong, sulfuric acid is known to be an excellent dehydrating agent. The concentrated sulfuric acid contains a very powerful dehydrating property, by removing water (H2O) from the other chemical compounds with sugar and other carbohydrates and forming heat, steam, and carbon.
Different Reactions of Sulfuric Acid
Reactions with Metals
Even the dilute sulfuric acid reacts with several metals through a single displacement reaction with the other typical acids, forming hydrogen gas and salts (which are the metal sulfate). It attacks the reactive metals (it means, the metals at positions above the copper in the reactivity series) like aluminium, iron, zinc, magnesium, nickel, and manganese.
Fe + H2SO4 → H2 + FeSO4
Reactions with Carbon
Sulfuric acid (hot concentrated) oxidizes carbon (as bituminous coal) and sulfur. The chemical reaction can be given as follows:
C + 2 H2SO4 → CO2 + 2 SO2 + 2 H2O
Reaction with Sodium Chloride
This compound reacts with sodium chloride and produces sodium bisulfate and hydrogen chloride. The chemical reaction for this can be given as follows:
NaCl + H2SO4 → NaHSO4 + HCl
H2SO4 Uses (Sulfuric Acid)
It is used in steel and iron and production
It is used in fertilizer manufacturing
It is also used in chemical manufacturing industries
It is used to form phosphoric acid
It is used in petroleum refining industries
It is used as a catalyst to convert the cyclohexanone oxime into caprolactam, which is used to make nylon
In industries, it used as a cleaning agent to remove the rust from iron and steel
It is used in preparing ammonium sulfate
It is used as an electrolyte in the lead-acid batteries
It is used in storage batteries
At high concentrations, sulfuric acid is frequently the primary ingredient in the acidic drain cleaners, which can be used to remove grease, tissue paper, and hair. Same as to their alkaline versions, such drain openers, dissolve proteins and fats via hydrolysis. However, as the concentrated sulfuric acid contains a strong dehydrating property, it removes tissue paper through the dehydrating process too. Since the acid can vigorously react with water, such acidic drain openers should be slowly added into the cleaned pipe.
Sulfuric acid is capable of causing severe burns, especially when this compound is at high concentrations. In common with the other alkali and corrosive acids, it readily decomposes lipids and proteins through the amide and ester hydrolysis upon contact with the living tissues, such as flesh and skin.
In addition, it also exhibits a strong dehydrating property on carbohydrates by liberating extra heat and also causing secondary thermal burns. Accordingly, it attacks the cornea if splashed onto the eyes rapidly and induces permanent blindness. If it is ingested, it damages our internal organs irreversibly and can even be fatal. Hence, protective equipment should be used when handling them. Also, its strong oxidizing property makes it highly corrosive to several metals and can cause extensive destruction on other materials.