Sulfuric acid (H₂SO₄)

Sulfuric acid (H₂SO₄)

A colorless, viscous liquid, a highly corrosive, strong acid used in several industrial processes.



sulphuric acid, acid, strong acid, oxoacid, acidity, hygroscopic, diprotic acid, oxidation, dehydration, passivating, sulfates, battery, inorganic chemistry, chemistry

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Sulfuric acid H₂SO₄


Molar mass: 98.07 g/mol

Melting point: 10.36 °C (50.65 °F)

Boiling point: 330 °C (572 °F)

Density: 1.841 g/cm³ (0.0665 lb/in³)


Sulfuric acid is a colorless, viscous, hygroscopic liquid. It dissolves in water in all proportions, and the process is highly exothermic. Concentrated sulfuric acid dehydrates organic substances and carbonizes them. When it comes in contact with the skin, it causes serious burns; therefore it must be diluted by slowly adding the concentrated acid to a large amount of water, while stirring continuously.

Sulfuric acid is a strong acid and a strong oxidant. Its salts are called sulfates. Dilute sulfuric acid dissolves metals of a standard electrode potential lower than hydrogen (aluminium, zinc and iron), while producing hydrogen – but it does not react with copper. Concentrated sulfuric acid also dissolves metals of a positive standard electrode potential (copper and silver), while producing sulfur dioxide.
Unlike dilute sulfuric acid, concentrated sulfuric acid deactivates iron; it is therefore possible to store it in iron tanks.

Occurrence and production

Sulfuric acid occurs naturally in its salts: gypsum (or calcium sulfate) and cupric sulfate (or copper sulfate). It is produced in the contact process. The process involves the oxidation of sulfur dioxide to produce sulfur trioxide, which is then absorbed by concentrated sulfuric acid. The resulting oleum can be diluted to produce sulfuric acid of any concentration.


Sulfuric acid is used in the production of fertilizers, dyes, medicines and explosives as well as in oil refining. It is also used as the electrolyte in lead-acid car batteries.

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Sulfurous acid (H₂SO₃)

Colorless, moderate acid, only known in aqueous solution.

Copper sulfate (CuSO₄)

A compound of sulfur often used as a pesticide.

Hydrogen sulfide (H₂S)

A colorless, toxic gas with the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. It occurs in certain mineral waters and spring waters.

Lead-acid battery

Electrochemical processes in a lead-acid battery produce electric current.

Sulfate ion (SO₄²⁻)

A compound ion produced when sulfuric acid releases a proton.

Sulfur (S₈)

An odorless, yellow, solid substance, the 16th most common in the Earth´s crust. One of the best known sulfur compounds is pyrite, also known as ´fool´s gold´.

Sulfur dioxide (SO₂)

Sulfur dioxide emission is the main cause of acid rains. It is an intermediate product in the production of sulfuric acid.

Sulfur trioxide (SO₃)

One of the oxides of sulfur, forms sulfuric acid with water.

Nitrous acid (HNO₂)

One of the oxoacids of nitrogen. Colorless, moderate acid with a pungent odor, that exists only in aqueous solution.

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