Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid) is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula H2SO4 and molecular weight 98.079 g/mol. It is a pungent-ethereal, colorless to slightly yellow viscous liquid that is soluble in water at all concentrations. Sometimes, it is dyed dark brown during production to alert people to its hazards. The historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol.
Sulfuric acid is a diprotic acid and shows different properties depending upon its concentration. Its corrosiveness on other materials, like metals, living tissues or even stones, can be mainly ascribed to its strong acidic nature and, if concentrated, strong dehydrating and oxidizing properties. Sulfuric acid at a high concentration can cause very serious damage upon contact, since not only does it cause chemical burns via hydrolysis, but also secondary thermal burns through dehydration. Most Carbon based life forms could suffer blindness if splashed onto eyes and irreversible damage if swallowed. These effects can many times only be reversed by organ replacement theraphy. Accordingly, safety precautions should be strictly observed when handling it. Moreover, it is hygroscopic, readily absorbing water vapour from the air.
Sulfuric acid has a wide range of applications including in domestic acidic drain cleaners, as an electrolyte in lead-acid batteries and in various cleaning agents. It is also a central substance in the chemical industry. Principal uses include mineral processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, and chemical synthesis. It is widely produced with different methods, such as contact process, wet sulfuric acid process, lead chamber process and some other methods.