# Acid burns overrated?

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I myself (thank god) never had an accident with acids. So I started wondering how bad an acid burn 'burns'... Well, to satisfy my curiosity i dunked my finger in 6M Sulfuric acid. Not the smartest thing to do I know, but I was curious. To my surprise I felt nothing. Now I know if I left it on my finger for a while that won't be a good idea. So I wiped it off on my lab coat. Well, right now and hour later my finger is fine and I'm typing this post. My question is just HOW concentrated does an acid have to be for it to start burning almost immediately. (Now I know if I try this with 18M Sulfuric acid I will probably end up losing a finger or somehthing but I'm just wondering what the minimum is.. )

Oh, and please.. no one try this. It was stupid and foolish of me to do this. If this post violates any SFN rules or regulations please delete it.

Thanks

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encipher.

Not just acid burns, but chhemical burns in general tend to take a bit of time. If you dip your finger, or any part of your body, in strong acid, or alkali, or strong oxidising agent, and do nothing about it, you will get burnt. The stronger the chemical, the quicker, and more severe the burn. However, in my experience, if you wash off the affected part with water (soap and water is better) quite quickly, there will be no burn.

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Have to make an added comment. Our skins are quite resistant to damage, with a thick layer of dead cells for protection. However, other parts of our bodies are not so well protected, and will be damaged quickly and severely by said chemicals. Soft mucous membranes are more vulnerable, such as in our eyes, throats etc. The most vulnerable of all is lung tissue. If you spray a nasty product, and inhale the aerosol, it may even kill you. Rapid erosion of lung tissue leads to weeping in alveoli, and they fill up with liquid, which can lead to a form of drowning.

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Yeah of course SkepticLance, I'm just talking about the stuff you commonly see in movies, or hear about from other people: "he touched acid and his finger dissolved.. etc.." or in movies when people spill nitric acid all over the floor and the bad guys get 'eaten alive' .

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That layer of dead cells and stuff that SkepticLance is refering to is really cool. It is very similar to lanolin that comes from sheep. His precautions about the vulnerabilities are a very good point also because our "thick skin" can lull us into a sense of invulnerability.

I think the stuff on our skin or in our skin is called Stratum Corneum and some other names, and the outer layers of skin itself offers protection. I am not really sure where one ends and the other begins. Anyhow, it is made up of oils and fats and waxes and alcohols and acids and alkylines and salts and all sorts of stuff, and protects our hair, and skin, and even clothing like wool. Well I am sure some of the stuff is doing damage and some is doing protecting, but which is doing which is probably quite complex and a matter of perspective. I am not sure how all of our resident alien micro-organisms fit into the picture either but they are very much involved in the whole affair, both in the production and in the destruction of our skin and our grease and each other. Even if we wash every day with way too much soap and 'skin care' products we still hold up very well because of this protective layer.

Comparison between the lipid groups of Lanolin and Strotum Corpeum

http://www.merinousa.com/lanolin.htm

LipidGroup StratumCornem Lanolin

Triglycerides - yes - no

FreeFattyAcids - yes - yes

FreeAliphaticAlcohols - no - yes

FreeSterols - yes - yes

Ceramides - yes - no

Alkanes - yes - yes

Squalene - yes - no

AliphaticAlcoholEsters - no - yes

SterolEsters - yes - yes

CholseterolSulphate - yes - no

.

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the only chemical that has even immedietly affedted me was 50% H2O2. I made this through concentration of the topical antiseptic. Its quite an interesting burn realy. Basicaly the concentrated stuff oxidizes your skin cells and a thin layer of your skin turns white after the "burn". It feels like some prickling, and of course it turns white, then it fades away within 30 minutes. The white also goes away. Ive also gotten H2SO4 on me and no effect. Never tried muriatic, but then again thats not a negaive thing.

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Before starting my job at the university's chemistry stockroom, I didnt have any experience with chemical burns. That is not to say that I never had chemicals on my hands. In high school, I had concentrated sulfuric, right from the bottle, spilled on my hands, not much, but about a 1-2mL. No burn was experienced, and the acid was rinsed off.

However, while working with a dilute solution of nitric acid, while making silver nitrate, I forgot to put rubber gloves on, and parts of my hands started turning white. The spots turned purple a day later, and a week later, peeled off. And, children, the moral of the story is to wear gloves when working with potentially dangerous chemicals.

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temperature plays a big role- you can spill a few mLs of 18M sulfuric acid on your hand at room temperature and hardly notice any burns if you wash it off quickly, but it will very rapidly burn through your skin if it is boiling.

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ive got h2o2 50% burns aswell, there not burns tho, and ithink the part about blistering is exaggerated, the pain is like a sharp bite but it fades away.

hno3 gas coloured my skin to yellowish, wasnt a burn but it pilled away after a week or 2

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']

hno3 gas coloured my skin to yellowish' date=' wasnt a burn but it pilled away after a week or 2[/quote']

^ Had that too, I think its still a burn :S

As long as its not really concentrated and how acids then they are normally OK... there are a few though like hydrofluric acid and peroxymonosulfuric acid will do a lot of damage fast... fortunatly they are not seen very often

This is what HF can do...

Cheers,

Ryan Jones

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Hmmm why don't you try that with some chlorosulfonic acid and tell me what the result is?

Edit* please please don't. A couple months ago some dript of the metal syring I was using to handle it and landed on my gloves. Which imediatley started to smoke and crackel. I Immediateley put the syringe down and ripped off my gloves and got someone else to close the open container....

Just because you play with whussy acids does not mean there are not dangerous ones out there.

A friend of mine splash some. It went onto her face. She was home for a week letting the scabs heal.

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There are quite some chemicals, which instantly cause VERY severe burns on your skin. These chemicals, however, are not present in the average home, and not even in the average home chemistry hobby lab.

Some of these chemicals are:

- pure Br2

- Mn2O7

- HF

- HNO3 (99%, not the standard 65%)

- Cr2O2Cl2

Of course, there are even more extreme ones, such as SbF5, BrF3, MnF4, SO3. These are so corrosive, that they cannot be handled without special equipment. For this reason, such chemicals only are used in well-equipped labs.

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Many times the burns depend on the nature of your skin. In an analytical lab I forgot to label a beaker of concentrated sulfuric acid. I thought it was water, and with my hands already full I went to pick up the beaker by just putting my thumb in the beaker full of "water" and moving it over to the sink. I had some moisture on my thumb and it immediately started to react with the acid and my thumb got VERY warm VERY quick. (My thumbnail also started to bubble pretty quickly). That one actually was more painful in rinsing it off due to the heat generated by the dilution of sulfuric acid.

If your skin is dry, it will take some time for the water-sensitive chemicals to cause damage. If your skin is moist, it will tend to react much quicker. Sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and the other alkali hydroxides tend to react pretty quickly, especially at an elevated temperature. -OH burns tend to not really hurt immediately, but a few hours later they get really sore as the sore gets pretty sensitive.

Another chemical which should be mentioned is formaldehyde. A concentrated solution of formaldehyde will destroy skin almost instantly. As a sophomore in high school I had a concentrated formaldehyde solution sprayed on my face by accident. (Dissecting a giant clam, and my lab partner did something that caused the stomach to eject the formaldehyde solution out the mouth and onto the right side of my face). As soon as the CH2O was wiped off my face, the layer of skin on the outside began to peel off and when I scratched my face the skin was just falling apart. The right side of my face was raw and red for a good two weeks. That's the only time I've ever had to use the emergency washing station. Let's just say that they really put out a great deal of water in a short period of time.

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I made the mistake of not having my goggles on when working with muratic acid one time, and one time only! I had a good sized drop splash up, and as luck would have directly into my right eye. I was taking an emergency shower labcoat and all for about 20 minutes while I tried to keep my burning eye open! Lesson learned: NEVER ENTER A LAB WITHOUT PROPER EYE PROTECTION! Fortunately, I didn't learn this lesson at the expense of my eye.

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well since were on about such Incidents, about 20 years ago I was cleaning a girlfriend cooker and oven with caustic soda (Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)), and it was quite a conc soln in the sink.

I was wearing rubber gloves that went half way up my arms, and all was good, the oven and part were shiney bright as new after about an hour and a half of work.

all up until I took the gloves off

there was a hole, the skin came off down to flesh with a simple press of a fingernain, and the 2 fingernails were like gelatine, I put my hand in a bowl of vinigar after seeing this (nothing hurt at all up until this point, I didnt feel a thing!!!!) a few days later the skin was all yellow and would crack and split with the slightest movement, took a good month to heal properly again

and the one nail has never been 100% right ever since.

so the warning here is to Check your Gloves TOO before messing with such chems!

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all up until I took the gloves off

there was a hole' date=' the skin came off down to flesh with a simple press of a fingernain, and the 2 fingernails were like gelatine, I put my hand in a bowl of vinigar after seeing this (nothing hurt at all up until this point, I didn`t feel a thing!!!!) a few days later the skin was all yellow and would crack and split with the slightest movement, took a good month to heal properly again

and the one nail has never been 100% right ever since.

so the warning here is to Check your Gloves TOO before messing with such chems![/quote']

OOO Nasty... I have only ever had mild contact with sodiun hydroxide, it made my skin go white and sort of line soap but no real damage I don't think.

Worst I have ever seen was when somebody in the chemistry class a year above us got sprayed with nitric acid... must have been quite bad because they rushed him to the hospital... then again thats probably standard for chemical injuries of any kind.

Cheers,

Ryan Jones

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so the warning here is to Check your Gloves TOO before messing with such chems!

i thought the warning here was to just use oven cleaner instead of making acid in your sink.

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These things are best learned by reading about someone else's mistakes. It can be a bad thing to learn these lessons on your own the hard way.

As stated in many of the posts, the reaction varies from person to person and how moist the skin is. Although 6M H2SO4 did not seem to burn, you can be assured that 12 M or greater will and cause significant damage. H2SO4 is water reactive and generates considerable heat when water is added. A general rule of thumb is for every 10 deg. C increase in temperature, the reaction rate increases by a factor of 2. From my own experience with many years in the lab, HCl will burn or cause pain but inflict the least damage of the common lab acids. You may start to feel a burning sensation at >4 M and definately by 6 or 9M. With HNO3, you will start to get yellow fingers at around 4 M but you may not feel it burn until 8M. At 16 M (70%) it will burn greatly and start to cause significant damage if not washed off quickly. It will have a residual burn for a few hours or longer. At 90% HNO3, immediate blistering, severe damage to the tissues, excruciating pain. This is similar to the effect of 18 M H2SO4 except much quicker. HF, although a weak acid, is the nastiest of them all. Definately never get this one on you. At concentrations around 10%, the onset of pain may be a few hours to 24 hours after exposure. You cannot wash it off at this point. The F- ion migrates through the pores of the skin and enters the blood stream. There it behaves like a strong acid, combines with Calcium (it is a bone seeker), causes excruciating pain for several hours to days, causes permanant tissue damage and often results in tissue death. At concentrations of 49%, immediate blistering of the skin occurs.

I recommend reading medical texts of how these burns were treated. They will make you cringe and give you a lot more respect for those things you work with.

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How about household bleach? A 5% sodium hypochlorite solution will cause a burning sensation quite quickly after contact, and then it makes your skin all slimy. Higher concentrations would be quite nasty.

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