MSDS - Sulfuric acid

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Sulfuric acid material data safety sheet. Reproduced with kind permission of the Department of Chemistry, Oxford University.

Last updated August 10, 2010

Common synonyms
  • Sulphuric acid.
  • Vitriol.
  • Oil of vitriol.
Formula H2SO4
  • Form: Colourless oily liquid when concentrated; colourless liquid when diluted
  • Stability: Stable, but hygroscopic.
  • Melting point: -2°C
  • Water solubility: Miscible in all proportions (dissolution is very exothermic).
  • Specific gravity: 1.84 (concentrated), close to 1 (dilute).
Principal hazards
  • Contact with the eyes or skin can cause serious permanent damage.
  • Concentrated solutions of acid are extremely corrosive.
  • Dissolution of sulfuric acid in water is very exothermic; enough heat may be released to make the water boil.
Safe handling
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Do not allow the acid or a solution of it to come into contact with your skin.
  • Concentrated sulfuric acid acid should not be diluted by inexperienced users! When diluting acid always wear eye protection, and ALWAYS add acid to water (not the reverse) slowly and with great care. Use constant stiring (sulfuric acid is much denser than water, and if you do not stir when adding acid to water, a layer of concentrated acid may form at the bottom of the beaker, creating a substantial temperature gradient where acid and water meet).
  • Note that freshly-prepared solutions will be warm or hot, and will as a consequence be more corrosive than a cool solution.
  • Eye contact: Immediately flush the eye with plenty of water. Continue for at least ten minutes and call for immediate medical help.
  • Skin contact: Wash off with plenty of water. Remove any contaminated clothing. If the skin reddens or appears damaged, call for medical aid.
  • If swallowed: Drink plenty of water and call for immediate medical help.
  • Small amounts of dilute sulfuric acid can be flushed down a sink with a large quantity of water, unless local rules prohibit this.
  • Larger amounts should be neutralised before disposal. Concentrated acid should not be flushed down a sink.
Protective equipment
  • ALWAYS wear safety glasses when handling sulfuric acid or its solutions.
  • If you need gloves, use neoprene, butyl rubber, natural rubber, polyethylene or PVC for handling solutions at concentrations of up to 70%. Use butyl rubber or polyethylene for concentrated sulfuric acid.
Further information More extensive safety data

Bio-rich-time-poor 21:38, 25 June 2011 (BST)