Why is acid corrosive

There is something about the word ‘acid’ that brings to mind an image of some destructive action, so much so that ‘acidic’ is as good as an abuse when used to describe a person. Acids have become nefarious over times because of their highly corrosive nature. All acids exhibit this property, so me to a moderate degree and some to a devastating extent.

The two prominent ingredients of the skin tissues are fats and proteins. Most fats are esters and most proteins are amides. Though chemically distinct, these two entities exhibit a common property, that of being easily hydrolyzed by acid action. It so happens that acids release H+ ions. These ions lead to the hydrolysis of the tissues. An acid that releases a huge amount of such ions is called a strong acid, whereas one which only gives off a small amount of H+ ions is termed weak acid. The hydration reactions soak water from the tissues and the transaction is highly exothermic, that is, releasing heat. Sulfuric acid, a strong acid, leaves physical burns apart from the expected chemical burns. Thus, acids initiate and catalyze the hydrolysis reaction in tissues, thus exhibiting the corrosive and deleterious properties. The degree of corrosion caused by an acid is determined to an agreeable level by a parameter called the pH of the acid. Acids are most nefarious for their corrosive action on metals in many industries. Metals are an integral part of the manufacturing sector, and corrosion is a common problem for this industry. Acid action eats the layers of metal and renders it unstable and brittle. Unofficial estimates point towards tens of billions of dollars worth losses incurred due to metal corrosion in mills and factories. Acids are the nemesis of the water distribution departments of states as the pipeline network established for the distribution is always a victim to corrosion in the acidic environment.

Understanding the chemical reactions that lead to corrosion is essential to devise the means to overcome this problem. Chemical methods like plating of high phosphorous nickel are able to tackle the corrosive properties of acids. Painting and polishing are also employed extensively to ward off the corrosive nature of acids.