Sulfuric acid (alternative spelling sulphuric acid) is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula H2SO4. It is a colorless to slightly yellow viscous liquid which is soluble in water at all concentrations. Sometimes, it may be dark brown as dyed during industrial production process in order 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 (e.g. skin and flesh) or even stones, can be mainly ascribed to its strong acidic nature and, if concentrated, strong dehydrating and oxidizing property. Sulfuric acid at a high concentration can cause very serious damage upon contact, as not only does it cause chemical burn via hydrolysis but also secondary thermal burn via dehydration. It burns cornea and can lead to permanent blindness if splashed onto eyes. So, safety precautions should be taken strictly when using it. Moreover, it is hygroscopic, readily absorbing water vapour from the air.
Possessing different chemical properties, 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, and chemical synthesis. It is widely produced with different methods, such as contact process, wet sulfuric acid process and some other methods.