Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid comprised of one atom of hydrogen and one atom of chlorine per molecule. Hydrochloric acid is clear and colorless but has a strong odor and a sour taste. Hydrochloric acid dissolves readily in water at all concentrations and has a boiling point of approximately 110 C. The gastric acids of the human stomach contain hydrochloric acid.
Hydrochloric acid is heavier than air and reacts with a variety of metals, producing metal chlorides and hydrogen gas. Hydrochloric acid neutralizes ammonia and reacts with base compounds, creating water and salts. It has many commercial and industrial uses that include the production of fertilizers, dyes and chlorides. Hydrochloric acid is also used in electroplating as well as in the photographic, rubber and textile industries.
This compound is very corrosive. Contact with the skin, eyes or mucous membranes may result in irritation and inflation of the respiratory tract and pulmonary edema. Ingestion of hydrochloric acid may result in damage to the mucous membranes, esophagus and stomach. Dermal contact may produce severe burns, ulceration and scarring. Chronic exposure to hydrochloric acid may cause gastritis, chronic bronchitis and photosensitization. Exposure to low concentrations of hydrochloric acid may also result in dental erosion and discoloration.