Chem Explorers

Unveiling the Power and Properties of Sulfuric Acid

Acid-base reactions are ubiquitous in chemistry, and one of the most fundamental examples is the neutralization reaction between sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2). In this article, we will explore the various facets of this reaction, including its products, type, balancing, and titration.

Products of H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 Reaction

The reaction between H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 is a double-displacement or metathesis reaction, which means two compounds exchange components to form two new compounds. H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 react to form magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) and water molecules (H2O).

The balanced equation of the reaction is:

H2SO4 + Mg(OH)2 MgSO4 + 2H2O

Type of Reaction

The H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction is a neutralization reaction, which involves the addition of an acid and a base to produce a salt and water. Magnesium hydroxide is a base, while sulfuric acid is an acid.

During the reaction, the acidic hydrogen ions (H+) in sulfuric acid react with the basic hydroxide ions (OH-) in magnesium hydroxide to form water.

Balancing the Equation

Balancing an equation involves adjusting the stoichiometric coefficients, or the numbers in front of the reactants and products, to ensure that the numbers of atoms on each side of the reaction are equal. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the initial equation is already balanced.

Titration Example

Titration is a technique used to determine the concentration of an acid or base. A solution of known concentration, called a titrant, is slowly added to the solution of unknown concentration, called the analyte, until the end-point of the reaction is reached.

In the case of H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, titration can be used to determine the amount of acid or base present in a solution. For example, if we have a solution of H2SO4 and we want to determine its concentration, we can titrate it with a solution of Mg(OH)2 of known concentration.

Net Ionic Equation

The net ionic equation is the chemical equation that represents only the species that undergo significant chemical changes during the reaction. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the net ionic equation is:

Mg(OH)2 + 2H+ Mg2+ + 2H2O

The net ionic equation shows that magnesium ions (Mg2+) and water molecules (H2O) are formed during the reaction.

Conjugate Pairs

In an acid-base reaction, the acid and base form conjugate pairs. A conjugate acid is the acid formed when a base accepts a proton, while a conjugate base is the base formed when an acid donates a proton.

In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the conjugate pairs are H2SO4 and SO42-, and Mg(OH)2 and Mg2+.

Intermolecular Forces

The H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction involves several intermolecular forces. Ionic interactions occur between the positively charged magnesium ion (Mg2+) and the negatively charged sulfate ion (SO42-).

Dipole-dipole interactions occur between the polar water molecules (H2O) and the sulfates and magnesium ions. Hydrogen bonding occurs between the partially positive hydrogen atoms in water and the partially negative atoms in the sulfate and magnesium ions.

Dispersion forces also occur between the nonpolar parts of the magnesium and hydroxide ions.

Reaction Enthalpy

The reaction enthalpy is the change in heat that occurs during a reaction. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the enthalpy change is -36.0 KJ/mol, indicating that the reaction is exothermic, and releases heat.

Buffer Solution

A buffer solution is a solution that can resist changes in pH when an acid or base is added to it. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the products, magnesium sulfate and water, do not have a significant effect on pH.

Therefore, the system is not a buffer solution.

Completeness of Reaction

A reaction that goes to completion means that all the reactants have been converted into products. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the reaction goes to completion because both reactants are fully consumed, and the products formed are not able to react further.

Exo/Endothermic Reaction

An exothermic reaction is a reaction that releases heat, while an endothermic reaction is a reaction that absorbs heat. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the reaction is exothermic, and releases heat.

Redox Reaction

A redox reaction is a reaction that involves a transfer of electrons from one species to another. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, there is no transfer of electrons, and therefore the reaction is not a redox reaction.

Precipitation Reaction

A precipitation reaction is a reaction in which a solid precipitate is formed when two solutions are mixed. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, no solid precipitate is formed, and therefore the reaction is not a precipitation reaction.

Reversibility of Reaction

A reversible reaction is a reaction that can proceed in both forward and backward directions. In the case of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction, the reaction is irreversible because the products are not able to react to reform the reactants.

Reaction Mechanism/Explanation

The reaction mechanism of the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction involves the displacement of hydrogen from the sulfate salt by magnesium. The hydroxide ions in Mg(OH)2 react with the acidic hydrogen ions in H2SO4 to form water.

At the same time, the magnesium ions formed during the reaction combine with the sulfate ions to form magnesium sulfate.

Mg(OH)2 as a Compound

Magnesium hydroxide, or Mg(OH)2, is a white, crystalline solid with low water solubility. Its solubility product constant, or Ksp, is 1.5 10-11 mol2/L2, indicating that it is sparingly soluble in water.

Mg(OH)2 occurs naturally as the mineral brucite and is also commercially synthesized. It is commonly used as an antacid to neutralize excess stomach acid and as a coagulant in wastewater treatment.


In conclusion, the H2SO4 and Mg(OH)2 reaction is a neutralization reaction that produces magnesium sulfate and water. The reaction is exothermic and irreversible, and the net ionic equation involves the formation of magnesium ions and water molecules.

Mg(OH)2 is a compound with low water solubility, and it is widely used as an antacid and in wastewater management. Understanding the various aspects of this reaction and compound is essential in fields such as chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, and environmental science.

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is one of the strongest and most widely used mineral acids in the chemical industry. It is highly corrosive and has powerful dehydrating properties.

In this article, we will delve into the specific properties and applications of H2SO4.

Corrosive Properties

H2SO4 is a highly corrosive acid due to its strong acidic properties. It reacts with metal causing oxidation and corrosion of metals such as iron, copper, and aluminum.

It also attacks organic compounds, often leading to the decomposition of the molecules. H2SO4 can produce serious harm if it mixes with water or other solutions, causing heat and potentially resulting in severe burns.

To protect workers from its corrosive properties, it should be handled with extreme care and appropriate personal protective equipment.

Dehydrating Agent

One of the most important properties of H2SO4 is its powerful dehydrating ability. Due to its strong proton-donating characteristics, it can act as a dehydrating agent for many substances.

It has the ability to remove a water molecule from other molecules to form an alkene or alkyl group. This property makes sulfuric acid indispensable in many chemical reactions, such as in the synthesis of ether, ester, and plastic production.

H2SO4’s dehydrating power can be seen in its ability to react with sugar, producing a thick, black carbonaceous substance. This occurs when sulfuric acid removes water molecules from the sucrose molecules, leading to the formation of carbon and a strong odor.

The dehydrating property of H2SO4 is also useful in removing water from other substances, such as ethanol, to produce a highly concentrated sample.

Application of H2SO4

H2SO4 is an important reagent in many chemical processes. It is used in the production of fertilizers, detergents, and acids, as well as in petroleum refining, metal production, and various other industries.

It is also frequently utilized in cleaning and disinfection applications, due to its ability to dissolve many inorganic compounds and destroy microorganisms. The fertilizer industry is a major consumer of H2SO4, using it for the production of phosphoric acid, which is then used to make phosphorus fertilizer.

Sulfuric acid is also used in petroleum refining, where it removes impurities such as sulfur from crude oil and natural gas. In the food industry, H2SO4 is used to clarify and refine sugar, and also in the production of grape juice and wine.

It is also added to carbonated drinks to increase their shelf life. H2SO4 is also a crucial component in batteries, particularly lead-acid batteries.

It acts as an electrolyte, facilitating the flow of electrons between the electrodes, thereby generating electrical power. In conclusion, sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a highly corrosive and powerful dehydrating agent, possessing dual roles in many chemical processes.

Its corrosive properties make it hazardous to handle, but also make it an essential component in many industrial applications. Its dehydrating properties make it indispensable in numerous chemical reactions, particularly in the production of plastics, ethers, and esters.

Its versatility and wide range of applications make sulfuric acid an indispensable component in the chemical industry. In summary, sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a strong mineral acid possessing highly corrosive and dehydrating properties used in a wide range of industrial applications, including fertilizers, detergents, petroleum refining, and battery production.

Its ability to remove water makes it an indispensable component in many chemical reactions, while its corrosive nature requires extreme caution in handling. The importance of understanding H2SO4’s properties and usage lies in its vital role in the chemical industry and its wide range of applications, making it a critical component in modern society.


Q: What is sulfuric acid? A: Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a highly corrosive mineral acid used in various industrial, chemical, and cleaning processes.

Q: What are the corrosive properties of H2SO4? A: H2SO4 is highly corrosive and can react with metals and organic compounds, leading to oxidation, decomposition, and severe burns on contact with skin.

Q: Why is H2SO4 a powerful dehydrating agent? A: H2SO4 has strong proton-donating features that enable it to remove water molecules from other substances, producing alkene, alkyl groups, and highly concentrated samples.

Q: What are the applications of H2SO4? A: H2SO4 is used in various applications, including fertilizers, detergents, petroleum refining, battery production, food industry, and cleaning and disinfecting, among many others.

Q: What precautions should be taken when handling H2SO4? A: To prevent the harmful effects of H2SO4, it should be handled with extreme caution, and appropriate personal protective equipment should be used.

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