Perchloric acid

From Academic Kids

Perchloric acid has the formula HClO4 and is a colorless liquid soluble in water. It is a strong acid like sulfuric or nitric acid. M.p.-17°C, B.p.181°C, r.d.1.664. It is a superacid, but it is not the stongest Brønsted-Lowry acid (which is fluorosulfuric acid).

This acid is very dangerous and can explode when concentrated. Its color turns yellow before it explodes. Perchloric acid is an extremely powerful oxidizer and reacts explosively with organic compounds. As a result, it is often diluted with water.

A 0.100 solution in glacial acetic acid is used as an analytical reagent. Titration of weak bases is made easier if the usual medium, water, is replaced by glacial acetic acid. Glacial acetic acid is a much weaker base than water, so the base being titrated appears to be stronger. As a counterpart, the strength of acids is reduced. This shows the difference in strength among the strong acids. Perchloric acid, being the strongest of all readily available acids, is therefore the acid of choice.

The diluted acid can be made by distillation of a solution of sodium perchlorate mixed with sulfuric acid. It also can be made by mixing nitric acid with ammonium perchlorate. The reaction gives nitrous oxide and perchloric acid. An alternative way is to react barium perchlorate with dilute sulfuric acid, which precipitates the barium sulfate, leaving only perchloric acid in solution.

The salts of perchloric acid are powerful oxidizers that are often used in explosive compositions. Perchlorate salts tend to be less reactive and more stable than their chlorate counterparts, which has led to their increased use in pyrotechnic compositions due to safety concerns.

It forms an azeotrope with water that boils at 203°C (perchloric acid 28.4% with water 71.6%).

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