Sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formula H2SO4 and molecular weight 98.079 g/mol. It is a pungent-ethereal, colorless to slightly yellow liquid that is soluble in water at all concentrations. Sometimes, it is dyed dark brown during production to alert people to its hazards, the historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol. Sulfuric acid is an acid and shows different properties depending upon its concentration. Its corrosiveness on other materials, like metals, living tissues or even stones, can be ascribed to its strong acidic nature and, if concentrated. It is also hygroscopic, readily absorbing water vapour from the air, Sulfuric acid at a high concentration can cause very serious damage upon contact, since not only does it cause chemical burns via hydrolysis, but also secondary thermal burns through dehydration. It can lead to permanent blindness if splashed onto eyes and irreversible damage if swallowed, Sulfuric acid has a wide range of applications including in domestic acidic drain cleaners, as an electrolyte in lead-acid batteries and in 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 process, wet sulfuric acid process, lead chamber process. The study of vitriol, a category of glassy minerals from which the acid can be derived, sumerians had a list of types of vitriol that they classified according to the substances color. Some of the earliest discussions on the origin and properties of vitriol is in the works of the Greek physician Dioscorides, galen also discussed its medical use. Ibn Sina focused on its uses and different varieties of vitriol. Sulfuric acid was called oil of vitriol by medieval European alchemists because it was prepared by roasting green vitriol in an iron retort, there are references to it in the works of Vincent of Beauvais and in the Compositum de Compositis ascribed to Saint Albertus Magnus. A passage from Pseudo-Geber´s Summa Perfectionis was long considered to be the first recipe for sulfuric acid, in the seventeenth century, the German-Dutch chemist Johann Glauber prepared sulfuric acid by burning sulfur together with saltpeter, in the presence of steam. As saltpeter decomposes, it oxidizes the sulfur to SO3, in 1736, Joshua Ward, a London pharmacist, used this method to begin the first large-scale production of sulfuric acid. This process allowed the effective industrialization of sulfuric acid production, after several refinements, this method, called the lead chamber process or chamber process, remained the standard for sulfuric acid production for almost two centuries. Sulfuric acid created by John Roebucks process approached a 65% concentration, later refinements to the lead chamber process by French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and British chemist John Glover improved concentration to 78%. However, the manufacture of dyes and other chemical processes require a more concentrated product
Drops of concentrated sulfuric acid rapidly decompose a piece of cotton towel by dehydration.
Acidic drain cleaners usually contain sulfuric acid at a high concentration which turns a piece of pH paper red and chars it instantly, demonstrating both the strong acidic nature and dehydrating property.