Hydrochloric Acid is a highly corrosive chemical compound comprised of hydrogen chloride and water. Hydrochloric acid is also known as spirits of salt or muriatic acid. It is colorless and has wide ranging uses and applications. Hydrochloric acid is a natural part of gastric acid in humans and animals. It is non-flammable, but is extremely corrosive and toxic in high concentrations. Hydrochloric acid was first discovered in the 13th century by European alchemists and by the 16th century free hydrochloric acid was formally described by Libavius. Let’s take a look at some of the most common applications of hydrochloric acid.
Uses of hydrochloric acid
The main use of hydrochloric acid in industry is in the process of pickling steel. The acid removes any rust or iron oxide scales from the steel prior to processing.
It is also used in the mining industry, particularly in oil wells where it is injected into rock surfaces to corrode them to allow greater access to the oil well underneath. Other mining operations use hydrochloric acid to separate precious metals such as gold or silver from ore.
Hydrochloric acid is also used to create organic compounds such as vinyl chloride and dichloroethane. These are used in the creation of PVC. Other organic compounds include bisphenol A, for use in polycarbonate, activated carbon and ascorbic acid. Numerous other organic compounds are made from Hydrochloric acid for use in pharmaceuticals.
Hydrochloric acid is used to create inorganic compounds such as iron chloride and polyaluminium chloride (PAC) . These are used as water treatment chemicals and coagulation agents for paper production. Other inorganic compounds are also created with hydrochloric acid, such as calcium chloride (used for salting roads), nickel chloride (used for electroplating), and zinc chloride (used for battery production and galvanizing).
In the food industry hydrochloric acid is used to regulate the pH of solutions. High-quality hydrochloric acid is used to control the pH of water streams. It is also used to create food additives such as aspartame, fructose, citric acid, lysine, hydrolyzed vegetable protein. It is also used in the creation of gelatin.
Hydrochloric acid is used in the process of removing ions such as sodium and chloride from water. It is used to demineralize water for use in industry, food and pharmaceuticals.
It is also used to neutralizing waste water and sanitizing swimming pools.
Hydrochloric acid is also used for leather processing, household cleaning agents and purification of common salt.