Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid) is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula H2SO4. It is a pungent-ethereal, colorless to slightly yellow viscous liquid which is soluble in water at all concentrations.
Sulfuric acid is a diprotic acid and shows different properties depending upon its concentration. Its corrosiveness on other materials, like metals, living tissues or evenstones, 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.It can lead to permanent blindness if splashed onto eyes and irreversible damage if swallowed. 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 domestic acidic drain cleaner, electrolyte in lead-acid batteries and various cleaning agents. It is also a central substance in the chemical industry. Principal uses include mineral processing, fertilizer manufacturing, oil refining, wastewater processing, chemical synthesis, and as a catalyst.