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A corrosive substance is one that will damage or destroy other substances with which it comes into contact by means of a
chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and t ...

chemical reaction
.


Etymology

The word ''corrosive'' is derived from the Latin verb ''corrodere'', which means ''to gnaw'', indicating how these substances seem to "gnaw" their way through flesh or other materials.


Chemical terms

The word ''corrosive'' refers to any
chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which ...

chemical
that will dissolve the structure of an object. They can be
acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special case of , proton donors form the H3O+ and are ...
s,
oxidizer An oxidizing agent, also known as an oxidant or oxidizer, is a substance that has the ability to oxidize other substances — in other words to electron acceptor, accept their electrons. Common oxidizing agents are oxygen, hydrogen peroxi ...
s, or bases. When they come in contact with a surface, the surface deteriorates. The deterioration can happen in minutes, e.g. concentrated
hydrochloric acid Hydrochloric acid +(aq) Cl−(aq) or H3O+ Cl− also known as muriatic acid, is an aqueous solution An aqueous solution is a solution Solution may refer to: * Solution (chemistry) Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, upMaking a salin ...

hydrochloric acid
spilled on skin; or slowly over days or years, e.g. the
rusting of iron
rusting of iron
in a bridge. Sometimes the word ''caustic'' is used as a synonym for ''corrosive'' when referring to the effect on living tissues. At low concentrations, a corrosive substance is called an ''irritant'', and its effect on living tissue is called
irritation Irritation, in biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiologi ...
. At high concentrations, a corrosive substance causes a ''chemical burn'', a distinct type of tissue damage. Corrosives are different from ''poisons'' in that corrosives are immediately dangerous to the tissues they contact, whereas
poisons In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms ...
may have systemic toxic effects that require time to become evident. Colloquially, corrosives may be called ''poisons'' but the concepts are technically distinct. However, there is nothing which precludes a corrosive from being a poison; there are substances that are both corrosives and poisons. Corrosion of non-living surfaces such as metals is a distinct process. For example, a water-air electrochemical cell corrodes
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
to ''
rust Rust is an iron oxide, a usually reddish-brown oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the catalytic presence of water or air moisture. Rust consists of hydrous ferric oxides, hydrous iron(III) oxides (Fe2O3·nH2O) and iron(III) oxi ...

rust
'', corrodes
copper Copper is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

copper
to ''
patina Patina (or ) is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of , , and similar ( produced by oxidation or other chemical processes), or certain s, and wooden (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing), or any similar acquired change ...

patina
'', and corrodes copper,
silver Silver is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

silver
, and other metals to ''
tarnish Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide of rutile. Ti(IV) centers are grey; oxygen centers are red. Notice that oxygen forms three bonds ...
''. In the international system of symbolic chemical labels, both rapid
corrosion Corrosion is a natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide An oxide () is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecu ...

corrosion
of metals and chemical corrosion of skin qualify for the corrosive symbol.


Effects on living tissue

Common corrosives are either
strong acid Acid strength is the tendency of an acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special ca ...

strong acid
s,
strong base In chemistry, there are three definitions in common use of the word base, known as Arrhenius bases, Brønsted bases and Lewis bases. All definitions agree that bases are substances which react with acid An acid is a or capable of do ...
s, or concentrated solutions of certain
weak acid Acid strength is the tendency of an acid An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+) (a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted–Lowry acid), or, alternatively, capable of forming a covalent bond wi ...

weak acid
s or
weak base A weak base is a base (chemistry), base that, upon dissolution in water, does not dissociate completely, so that the resulting aqueous solution contains only a small proportion of hydroxide ions and the concerned basic radical, and a large proportio ...
s. They can exist as any
state of matter In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular su ...
, including
liquids A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isochoric flow) refers to a fluid flow, flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid par ...
,
solids Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter 4 (four) is a number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is an ...
,
gases Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a su ...
, mists or
vapor In physics, a vapor (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United St ...
s. Their action on
living tissue In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...
(e.g.
skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Other cuticle, animal coverings, such as the arthropod exoskeleton, have differ ...

skin
,
flesh Flesh is any aggregation of soft tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North America * ''Tri ...

flesh
and
cornea The cornea is the transparent Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material. They may also refer to: Literal uses * ...

cornea
) is mainly based on acid-base reactions of amide
hydrolysis Hydrolysis (; ) is any chemical reaction in which a molecule of water breaks one or more chemical bonds. The term is used broadly for substitution Substitution may refer to: Arts and media *Chord substitution, in music, swapping one chord fo ...

hydrolysis
, ester hydrolysis and
protein denaturation Denaturation is a process in which protein Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, ...

protein denaturation
.
Proteins Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958, for which they received a No ...

Proteins
(chemically composed of
amide In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, ...

amide
bonds) are destroyed via
amide hydrolysis
amide hydrolysis
while
lipids In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...

lipids
(which have
ester An ester is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by chemic ...

ester
bonds) are decomposed by
ester hydrolysis
ester hydrolysis
. These reactions lead to
chemical burn A chemical burn occurs when living tissue is exposed to a corrosive substance (such as a strong acid An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+) (a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted–Lowry acid ...
s and are the mechanism of the destruction posed by corrosives. Some corrosives possess other
chemical properties A chemical property is any of a material's properties that becomes evident during, or after, a chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substan ...
which may extend their corrosive effects on living tissue. For example,
sulfuric acid Sulfuric acid (American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthography English orthogra ...

sulfuric acid
(H2SO4) at a high
concentration In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in t ...

concentration
is also a strong dehydrating agent, capable of dehydrating
carbohydrates is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is a disaccharide found in animal milk. It consists of a molecule of D-galacto ...
and liberating extra
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...

heat
. This results in secondary
thermal burns
thermal burns
in addition to the chemical burns and may speed up its decomposing reactions on the contact surface. Some corrosives, such as
nitric acid Nitric acid (), also known as ''aqua fortis'' (Latin for "strong water") and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive mineral acid. The pure compound is colorless, but older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to decomposition into nitroge ...

nitric acid
and concentrated sulfuric acid, are strong
oxidizing agent An oxidizing agent, also known as an oxidant or oxidizer, is a substance that has the ability to oxidize other substances — in other words to electron acceptor, accept their electrons. Common oxidizing agents are oxygen, hydrogen peroxi ...

oxidizing agent
s as well, which significantly contributes to the extra damage caused.
Hydrofluoric acid Hydrofluoric acid is a Solution (chemistry), solution of hydrogen fluoride (HF) in water. Solutions of HF are colourless, acidic and highly Corrosive substance, corrosive. It is used to make most fluorine-containing compounds; examples include th ...
does not necessarily cause noticeable damage upon contact, but produces tissue damage and toxicity after being painlessly absorbed.
Zinc chloride Zinc chloride is the name of chemical compounds with the formula ZnCl2 and its hydrates. Zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and ha ...

Zinc chloride
solutions are capable of destroying
cellulose Cellulose is an organic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior ...

cellulose
and corroding through paper and
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...

silk
since the
zinc Zinc is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical element ...

zinc
cation An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are u ...
s in the solutions specifically attack
hydroxyl group A hydroxy or hydroxyl group is a functional group with the chemical formula -OH and composed of one oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the ...

hydroxyl group
s, acting as a
Lewis acid A Lewis acid (named for the American physical chemist Gilbert N. Lewis) is a chemical species that contains an empty Non-bonding orbital, orbital which is capable of accepting an electron pair from a Lewis Base (chemistry), base to form a Lewis ad ...

Lewis acid
. This effect is not restricted to acids; so strong a base as
calcium oxide Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime, is a widely used chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms f ...

calcium oxide
, which has a strong affinity for water (forming calcium hydroxide, itself a strong and corrosive base), also releases heat capable of contributing thermal burns as well as delivering the corrosive effects of a strong alkali to moist flesh. In addition, some corrosive chemicals, mostly
acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special case of , proton donors form the H3O+ and are ...
s such as
hydrochloric acid Hydrochloric acid +(aq) Cl−(aq) or H3O+ Cl− also known as muriatic acid, is an aqueous solution An aqueous solution is a solution Solution may refer to: * Solution (chemistry) Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, upMaking a salin ...

hydrochloric acid
and
nitric acid Nitric acid (), also known as ''aqua fortis'' (Latin for "strong water") and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive mineral acid. The pure compound is colorless, but older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to decomposition into nitroge ...

nitric acid
, are volatile and can emit corrosive mists upon contact with
air The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (ph ...

air
. Inhalation can damage the
respiratory tract The respiratory tract is the subdivision of the respiratory system The respiratory system (also respiratory apparatus, ventilatory system) is a biological system A biological system is a complex network which connects several biologically re ...

respiratory tract
. Corrosive substances are most hazardous to eyesight. A drop of a corrosive may cause
blindness Visual impairment, also known as vision impairment or vision loss, is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are vision eyew ...
within 2–10 seconds through opacification or direct destruction of the
cornea The cornea is the transparent Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material. They may also refer to: Literal uses * ...

cornea
. Ingestion of corrosives can induce severe consequences, including serious damage of the
gastrointestinal tract The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, digestive tract, alimentary canal) is the tract or passageway of the digestive system The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract The gastrointestinal tract, (GI tract, GIT, d ...
, which can lead to
vomiting Vomiting (also known as emesis and throwing up) is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach The stomach is a muscular, Organ (anatomy), hollow organ in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and many other anim ...

vomiting
, severe
stomach aches Abdominal pain, also known as a stomach ache, is a symptom associated with both non-serious and serious medical issues. Common causes of pain in the abdomen include gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome. About 15% of people have a more ...
, and death.


Common types

Common corrosive chemicals are classified into: *
Acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special case of , proton donors form the H3O+ and are ...
s **
Strong acid Acid strength is the tendency of an acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special ca ...

Strong acid
sthe most common are
sulfuric acid Sulfuric acid (American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthography English orthogra ...

sulfuric acid
,
nitric acid Nitric acid (), also known as ''aqua fortis'' (Latin for "strong water") and spirit of niter, is a highly corrosive mineral acid. The pure compound is colorless, but older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to decomposition into nitroge ...

nitric acid
and
hydrochloric acid Hydrochloric acid +(aq) Cl−(aq) or H3O+ Cl− also known as muriatic acid, is an aqueous solution An aqueous solution is a solution Solution may refer to: * Solution (chemistry) Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, upMaking a salin ...

hydrochloric acid
(H2SO4, HNO3 and HCl, respectively). **Some concentrated
weak acid Acid strength is the tendency of an acid An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+) (a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted–Lowry acid), or, alternatively, capable of forming a covalent bond wi ...

weak acid
s, for example
formic acid Formic acid, systematically named methanoic acid, is the simplest carboxylic acid A carboxylic acid is an organic acid An organic acid is an organic compound with acidic properties. The most common organic acids are the carboxylic acid ...

formic acid
,
acetic acid Acetic acid , systematically named ethanoic acid , is a colourless liquid organic compound with the chemical formula CH3COOH (also written as CH3CO2H, C2H4O2, or HC2H3O2). Vinegar is no less than 4% acetic acid by volume, making acetic acid ...

acetic acid
, and
phosphoric acid Phosphoric acid, also known as orthophosphoric acid or phosphoric(V) acid, is a weak acid with the chemical formula . The pure compound is a colorless solid. All three hydrogens are acidic to varying degrees and can be lost from the molecule ...

phosphoric acid
**Strong
Lewis acid A Lewis acid (named for the American physical chemist Gilbert N. Lewis) is a chemical species that contains an empty Non-bonding orbital, orbital which is capable of accepting an electron pair from a Lewis Base (chemistry), base to form a Lewis ad ...

Lewis acid
s such as anhydrous
aluminum chloride Aluminium chloride (AlCl3), also known as aluminium trichloride, describe compounds with the formula AlCl3(H2O)n (n = 0 or 6). They consist of aluminium Aluminium (aluminum in American English, American and Canadian English) is a chemical e ...
and
boron trifluoride Boron trifluoride is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula, formula BF3. This pungent colourless toxic gas forms white fumes in moist air. It is a useful Lewis acid and a versatile building block for other boron compounds. Structure ...
**
Lewis acid A Lewis acid (named for the American physical chemist Gilbert N. Lewis) is a chemical species that contains an empty Non-bonding orbital, orbital which is capable of accepting an electron pair from a Lewis Base (chemistry), base to form a Lewis ad ...

Lewis acid
s with specific reactivity; e.g., solutions of
zinc chloride Zinc chloride is the name of chemical compounds with the formula ZnCl2 and its hydrates. Zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and ha ...

zinc chloride
**Extremely strong acids (
superacid According to the classical definition, a superacid is an acid An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+) (a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted–Lowry acid), or, alternatively, capable of forming ...
s) * Bases **Caustics or alkalis, such as
sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye A lye is a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching wood ashes, or a strong alkali In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chem ...

sodium hydroxide
,
potassium hydroxide Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, ...

potassium hydroxide
, and
calcium hydroxide Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula calcium, Ca(Hydroxide, OH)2. It is a colorless crystal or white powder and is produced when quicklime (calcium oxide) is mixed or slaking (ge ...

calcium hydroxide
**
Alkali metals The alkali metals consist of the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a ...
in the metallic form (e.g. elemental
sodium Sodium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical eleme ...

sodium
), and hydrides of alkali and
alkaline earth metal The alkaline earth metals are six chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a n ...
s, such as
sodium hydride Sodium hydride is the chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together by ch ...
, function as strong bases and hydrate to give caustics **Extremely strong bases (
superbase A superbase is a compound that has a particularly high affinity for protons A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a fo ...
s) such as
alkoxide An alkoxide is the conjugate base A conjugate acid, within the Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory The Brønsted–Lowry theory (also called proton theory of acids and bases) is an acid–base reaction An acid–base reaction is a chem ...

alkoxide
s, metal amides (e.g.
sodium amide Sodium amide, commonly called sodamide (systematic name sodium azanide), is the inorganic compound with the formula NaNH2. It is a salt composed of the sodium cation and the azanide anion. This solid, which is dangerously reactive toward water, ...
) and
organometallic Organometallic chemistry is the study of organometallic compounds, chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any subst ...
bases such as
butyllithiumButyllithium may refer to one of 5 isomeric organolithium reagents of which 3 are commonly used in chemical synthesis: *n-Butyllithium, ''n''-Butyllithium, abbreviated BuLi or nBuLi *sec-Butyllithium, ''sec''-Butyllithium, abbreviated ''sec''-BuLi ...
**Fully alkalized salts of weak acids such as
trisodium phosphate Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is the inorganic compound In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, str ...

trisodium phosphate
**Some concentrated weak bases, such as
ammonia Ammonia is a chemical compound, compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the chemical formula, formula NH3. A Binary compounds of hydrogen, stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a distinct ch ...

ammonia
when anhydrous or in a concentrated solution * Dehydrating agents such as concentrated
sulfuric acid Sulfuric acid (American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthography English orthogra ...

sulfuric acid
,
phosphorus pentoxide Phosphorus pentoxide is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held togeth ...

phosphorus pentoxide
,
calcium oxide Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime, is a widely used chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms f ...

calcium oxide
, anhydrous
zinc chloride Zinc chloride is the name of chemical compounds with the formula ZnCl2 and its hydrates. Zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and ha ...

zinc chloride
, also elemental alkali metals * Strong oxidizers such as concentrated
hydrogen peroxide Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by hav ...

hydrogen peroxide
* Electrophilic
halogen The halogens () are a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can ...

halogen
s: elemental
fluorine Fluorine is a chemical element with the Chemical symbol, symbol F and atomic number 9. It is the lightest halogen and exists at Standard conditions for temperature and pressure, standard conditions as a highly toxic, pale yellow Diatomic molecule ...

fluorine
,
chlorine Chlorine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemica ...

chlorine
,
bromine Bromine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

bromine
and
iodine Iodine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

iodine
, and electrophilic salts such as
sodium hypochlorite Sodium hypochlorite (commonly known in a dilute solution as bleach) is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any ...

sodium hypochlorite
or N-chloro compounds such as chloramine-T;
halide A halide is a binary phase, of which one part is a halogen atom and the other part is an chemical element, element or radical (chemistry), radical that is less electronegative (or more electropositive) than the halogen, to make a, e.g., fluoride, ...
ions are not corrosive, except for
fluoride Fluoride (). According to this source, is a possible pronunciation in British English. is an inorganic In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds compose ...
* Organic halides and organic acid halides such as
acetyl chloride Acetyl chloride (CH3COCl) is an acyl chloride In organic chemistry, an acyl chloride (or acid chloride) is an organic compound with the functional group -Carbonyl, COChlorine, Cl. Their formula is usually written RCOCl, where R is a side chain. ...

acetyl chloride
and
benzyl chloroformate Benzyl chloroformate, also known as benzyl chlorocarbonate or Z-chloride, is the benzyl ester of chloroformic acid. It can be also described as the chloride of the benzyloxycarbonyl (Cbz or Z) group. In its pure form it is a water-sensitive oily co ...
* Acid
anhydride An organic acid anhydride is an acid anhydride that is an organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen chemical bond, bonds. ...
s *
Alkylating agent Alkylation is the transfer of an alkyl In organic chemistry, an alkyl substituent A substituent is one or a group of atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any sub ...
s such as
dimethyl sulfate Dimethyl sulfate (DMS) is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held toget ...

dimethyl sulfate
* Some organic materials such as
phenol Phenol (also called carbolic acid) is an aromatic forms of benzene (top) combine to produce an average structure (bottom) In chemistry, aromaticity is a property of cyclic compound, cyclic (ring (chemistry), ring-shaped), plane (geometry), p ...

phenol
("carbolic acid")


Personal protective equipment

Use of
personal protective equipment Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing A kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabr ...
, including items such as protective gloves, protective aprons, acid suits, safety goggles, a face shield, or safety shoes, is normally recommended when handling corrosive substances. Users should consult a
safety data sheet A safety data sheet (SDS), material safety data sheet (MSDS), or product safety data sheet (PSDS) is a document that lists information relating to occupational safety and health Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred ...
for the specific recommendation for the corrosive substance of interest. The material of construction of the personal protective equipment is of critical importance as well. For example, although rubber gloves and rubber aprons may be made out of a chemically resistant
elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** P ...
such as
nitrile rubber Nitrile rubber, also known as nitrile butadiene rubber, NBR, Buna-N, and acrylonitrile butadiene rubber, is a synthetic rubber A synthetic rubber is any artificial elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', ...
,
neoprene Neoprene (also polychloroprene) is a family of synthetic rubber A synthetic rubber is any artificial elastomer. They are polymers synthesized from petroleum byproducts. About 32-million metric tons of rubbers are produced annually in the United ...
, or butyl rubber, each of these materials has different resistance to different corrosives and they should not be substituted for each other.


Uses

Some corrosive chemicals are valued for various uses, the most common of which is in cleaning agent, household cleaning agents. For example, most drain cleaners contain either acids or alkalis due to their capabilities of dissolving fat, greases, proteins or mineral deposits such as limescale inside water pipes. In chemical uses, high chemical reactivity is often desirable, as the rates of chemical reactions depend on the Thermodynamic activity, activity (effective concentration) of the reactive species. For instance, catalytic sulfuric acid is used in the alkylation process in an oil refinery: the activity of carbocations, the reactive intermediate, is higher with stronger acidity, and thus the reaction proceeds faster. Once used, corrosives are most often recycled or neutralized. However, there have been environmental problems with untreated corrosive effluents or accidental discharges.


References

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