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An Overview Of Phosphoric Acid & Its General Uses

Phosphoric acid, also famous as orthophosphoric acid, is primarily a tricrotic acid that exists in the form of a dense liquid. It is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and other mucous membranes of the human body.

  • It is a weak acid, and the chemical formulation is H3PO4.  
  • The most common form is the 85% liquid solution that is colourless, odourless, and non-volatile. 

Phosphoric acid is a significant aspect of various food additives, including cola drinks. It is less corrosive than all the other mineral acids. Many materials can exhibit good resistance to the acid, at least at low temperatures.

Physical & Chemical Properties

Pure phosphoric acid is available in white crystalline form with a melting point of 42.350C. If it is less dense, it will be a colourless and viscous liquid density of 1.885g/mL.

The substance is non-toxic. Maximum phosphoric acid manufacturers use the concentration of 85% acid in water.

Chemical properties

Phosphoric acid has three acidic and replaceable H atoms. Therefore, it reacts differently than the other form of mineral acids. 

  • It reacts with bases to produce three classes of salts by replacing one or two of the three H atoms. For instance, Na2PO4, NaH2PO4, and Na3PO4 are salts. 

Phosphoric acid molecules will react together at high temperatures and form dimers, trimers, and long polymeric chains without losing water molecules. The reaction is something like

2 H3PO4 → H4P2O7 (- H2O)

Formulation Of Acid

The chemical formula of phosphoric acid H3PO4 implies that the central phosphorus atom is connected to an oxygen atom through a double bond and three hydroxyl groups through single bonds. Thus, the formula can release up to three hydrogen ions.

Common Uses

There are myriad applications of phosphoric acid.

  • As it is mildly acidic in nature and completely non-toxic, phosphoric acid suppliers have a huge demand in the food flavoring industry and the beverage manufacturing industries. 
  • Certain dental products, cosmetics, and skincare products also contain the substance. 
  • In industrial manufacturing procedures, the substance is a useful constituent of phosphate fertilizers, 
  • There is wide use of the product as an electrolyte, rust removal agent, etching agent, and pH modifiers.

Moreover, the element can work as a great household cleaning agent, sanitizing agent, and dispersing agent too.

Safety Concerns

There is no toxic tag or hazardous mark on the phosphoric acid. In low concentrations, the acid is safe on the skin and even for indirect consumption in the form of food ad dental products.

However, you should avoid the chemical in higher concentrations as it will be corrosive and lead to skin burns.

Precautions Against Phosphoric Acid

Handling phosphoric acid 85 is not a safe task always, and the workers have to maintain safety measures to ensure that they don’t suffer from injuries.

  • After inhalation: It is necessary to seek medical attention quickly. Moving the exposed individual to fresh air is good and loosens up the clothing to make sure that the person is in a comfortable position.
  • After eye contact: immediate rinsing is vital, using plenty of water for at least half an hour. Remove the contact lenses, if any, and seek medical attention. Also, protect the unexposed eye.
  • After skin contact: removing clothing from the exposed skin part is mandatory, and then washing the skin for 30 minutes using a deluge of water or under the shower. Medical attention is crucial. 

You should wear gloves and PPE to protect as much body area as possible as precautions. Swallowing the acid can be dangerous, and you should rush to the treatment facility.

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