Muriatic acid is actually a solution of hydrogen chloride and water. Being considered as a strong acid, this compound has remarkable industrial applications although it can be hazardous when misused and handled improperly. It occurs naturally in humans though it seems only found in industrial settings being too inorganic to be in living systems. However, animals and humans do have this acid in their systems, present in the lining of the stomach as it aids in digestion and forms a protective layer against bacteria.
Muriatic acid is more precisely known in chemistry as hydrochloric acid, a strong acid in the league of nitric acid and sulphuric acid. Though you may only have seen the acid in your chemical laboratories, it is a top industrial acid and chemical that is used in a wide range of fields from medicine to oil industry. The acid was regarded as a mineral acid as it was derived from mineral salt.
Muriatic acid is a solution, precisely speaking, and the pure form of the acid is in actuality a gas (hydrogen chloride) that is a product of the chemical reaction of hydrogen and chlorine gases. This explosive reaction yields the popular gaseous acid which is colorless and yet very corrosive. Since this gas has little use in the industrial setting, it must be dissolved into the water first to become extensively applicable. Since it is an ionic acid, it dissolves effectively in polar covalent substances like water. The strength of the acid is due to the complete dissociation of chloride and hydrogen ions in the aqueous system. Generally, it is the aqueous solution of HCl that is commercially available and commercially usable. Therefore, hydrogen chloride must be dissolved in deionized water to render any use.
The unadulterated solution of HCl in water should be transparent, no color. But most muriatic acid sold in the market has varying grades of yellowish tinge, which is a result of impurities in the solution such as ions of iron. The name comes from the Latin term “muria” that means “seawater.” The old method of commercial production of the acid uses rock salt that comes from the sea. The German chemist Johann Rudolf Glauber described this preparation, which made use of salt, in 1648. The method featured heating a mixture of sulphuric acid and sodium chloride. This reaction yields sodium hydrogen sulphate and the gaseous hydrogen chloride. At higher temperatures, salt reacts with sodium hydrogen sulphate to yield more HCl gas.
Another method of obtaining the compound is through direct combination reaction of the composing elements Acidaburn hydrogen gas and chlorine gas. Nevertheless, much of today’s supply of HCl comes as a byproduct of the processing of chlorinated hydrocarbons like some plastics, refrigerants, and insecticides. Since the gaseous acid compound is of little use, it must be dissolved in water to form HCl (aq) or hydrochloric acid. This is possible by directing the gas into the base of the tower where water runs downward over a non-moving packing material. The gas dissolves easily in water and the acid solution exits the base of the tower.
The commercial version of the acid is in concentrated forms. The matter with a concentrated HCl is that it easily releases irritating fumes of the gaseous acid once the container is opened. The acidic gas attracts air moisture to produce droplets of acid. Hence, serious precautions must be considered when opening bottles or containers containing the highly concentrated acid. Inhalation of the fumes could severely injure the mucus lining of the upper respiratory tract.
The HCl (aq) in chemical laboratories is generally a dilute solution which does not fume when exposed to air, but that does not mean that precautions can be neglected. Even in dilute solutions, it can still cause skin irritation upon exposure, and exposure is commonly a result of mishandling.