Hydrogen Chloride: Formula, Structure & Properties

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  • 0:05 Hydrogen Chloride
  • 0:40 Chemical Properties of HCl
  • 1:48 Commercial and…
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid that contains a hydrogen and a chlorine atom per molecule. It is an important acid commercially and biologically, and this lesson will discuss the properties of HCl that contribute to these uses.

Hydrogen Chloride

Acids are inorganic molecules that release hydrogen ions (positively charged hydrogen atoms) when added to water. These molecules tend to break apart (or dissociate) when added to water, and the number of hydrogen ions released during this process will determine the acidity of the solution. Acids come in two basic types: weak acids and strong acids. Weak acids dissociate partially, while strong acids dissociate completely in water. One of the most notable strong acids is hydrochloric acid (HCl or hydrogen chloride). Let's discuss HCl and its properties as a strong acid.

Chemical Properties of HCl

Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid and is made of hydrogen and chlorine atoms. Hydrogen and chlorine atoms participate in covalent bonding, which means that hydrogen will share a pair of electrons with chlorine. This covalent bond is present until water is added to HCl. Once added to water, HCl will separate into hydrogen ions (which are positive and will attach to water molecules) and chloride ions (which are negative).

HCl is clear and colorless when added to water. However, hydrochloric acid has a strong odor and contains a sour taste, which is typical of many acids. Hydrochloric acid dissolves in water readily at all concentrations and has a boiling point of approximately 110 degrees Celsius.

Hydrochloric acid is corrosive, meaning it will break down and erode biological tissues upon contact. Furthermore, HCl can cause massive damage internally if it is inhaled or swallowed. For these reasons, it is suggested that individuals handling HCl use gloves, goggles, and masks when working with this acid.

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