July 19, 2024

Dilute hydrochloric acid (Dil HCl): General methods of preparation, assay, properties and medicinal uses

Dilute hydrochloric acid (Dil HCl): General methods of preparation, assay, properties and medicinal uses

Chaudhari, M. (2023). Dilute hydrochloric acid (Dil HCl). Pharmacy Infoline. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10827347


Dilute hydrochloric acid (dil-HCl) is a colorless, aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride (HCl) and water. It is a common and versatile reagent used in various laboratory applications, industrial processes, and household cleaning solutions. This article explores the properties, preparation, safety considerations, and applications of dil-HCl.


  • Chemical Formula: H₂O (solvent) + HCl (solute)
  • Physical State: Colorless liquid
  • Odor: Pungent odor of hydrogen chloride
  • pH: Typically between 2 and 3 (highly acidic)
  • Solubility: Miscible with water in all proportions
  • Corrosivity: Corrosive to metals, skin, and eyes


Dil-HCl is commercially available in various concentrations, typically ranging from 1% to 37% HCl by weight. Concentrated hydrochloric acid (37%) is a hazardous material and should be handled with appropriate safety precautions. Dilute solutions can be prepared in the laboratory by carefully adding concentrated HCl to deionized (DI) water. It is crucial to always add acid to water, slowly and with stirring, to avoid generating excessive heat and splattering.


The concentration of dil-HCl solutions can be determined using various analytical techniques. A common method is acid-base titration, where a standardized solution of a strong base, like sodium hydroxide (NaOH), is used to neutralize the acid. The volume of base required to reach the endpoint (indicated by a pH change) is used to calculate the concentration of HCl in the diluted solution. Additionally, instrumental methods like conductivity measurements can be employed for concentration determination, but these require calibration with standardized solutions.

Safety Considerations

Dil-HCl is a corrosive acid and can cause severe burns to skin and eyes. Inhalation of hydrogen chloride vapors can irritate the respiratory tract. When handling dil-HCl, it is essential to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses or a face shield, and a lab coat. Always work in a well-ventilated fume hood. Spills should be neutralized with a weak base such as sodium bicarbonate solution and cleaned up promptly. Dispose of waste dil-HCl according to local regulations.


Medicinal Uses:

Despite its widespread use in laboratories and industry, dil-HCl has very limited applications in medicine. In some cases, dilute solutions (typically 0.1% or less) may be used topically as a skin irritant or digestive aid, but these applications are uncommon and require strict medical supervision due to the potential for tissue damage. Due to the availability of safer and more effective alternatives, dil-HCl is not a common component of modern pharmaceuticals.

Dil-HCl has a wide range of applications, including:

  • Laboratory applications:
    • Acidification of solutions
    • Dissolving metals
    • Titration reactions
    • Chemical analysis
  • Industrial processes:
    • Pickling of metals (removing oxides)
    • Production of other chemicals
    • Leather tanning
    • Food processing (e.g., adjusting pH in beverages)
  • Household applications (dilute solutions):
    • Cleaning porcelain
    • Descaling

Important Tips About Dilute Hydrochloric Acid (dil-HCl)

Dilute hydrochloric acid (dil-HCl) is a common laboratory workhorse, but its acidic nature demands respect. Here are some crucial tips to ensure safe and effective use of dil-HCl:

1. Know Your Concentration:

  • Dil-HCl comes in various concentrations (e.g., 1% – 37% HCl by weight). Always identify the concentration on the bottle before use.
  • Select the appropriate concentration for your specific application. Higher concentrations are not always better and can pose unnecessary safety risks.

2. Dilution Do’s and Don’ts:

  • NEVER add water to concentrated HCl. The exothermic reaction (heat generation) can cause violent splattering and potential burns.
  • ALWAYS add concentrated HCl slowly and with stirring to a container of DI water. This ensures proper mixing and minimizes heat generation.

3. Dress for the Job:

  • Wear appropriate PPE whenever handling dil-HCl. This includes:
    • Chemical-resistant gloves: Nitrile or neoprene gloves are preferred.
    • Safety glasses or face shield: Protect your eyes from splashes.
    • Lab coat: Protect your clothing from accidental contact.

4. Fume Hood is Your Friend:

  • Always work with dil-HCl in a well-ventilated fume hood. Fume hoods remove hazardous vapors and protect you from inhalation risks.

5. Label Clearly, Dispose Safely:

  • Clearly label all containers of dil-HCl with the concentration and date.
  • Dispose of waste dil-HCl according to your institution’s hazardous waste disposal procedures. Never pour it down the drain.

6. Secondary Containment:

  • Consider using a secondary containment tray when working with dil-HCl. This can help capture accidental spills and prevent contamination.

7. Know What to Do in Case of Spills:

  • Be prepared to respond to spills. Have a spill kit readily available in your work area.
  • Neutralize small spills with a weak base like sodium bicarbonate solution.
  • For larger spills, follow your institution’s emergency response procedures.

8. Store it Right:

  • Store dil-HCl in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area away from incompatible chemicals like bases and oxidizing agents.
  • Ensure the container is properly sealed to prevent leaks and vapor release.

9. Never Mix Acids:

  • Mixing different acids can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Always use the designated acid for your experiment.

10. When in Doubt, Ask!

  • If unsure about any aspect of dil-HCl use, consult your supervisor, a qualified chemist, or the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for specific handling instructions.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your work with dil-HCl is safe, efficient, and contributes to a positive laboratory environment. Remember, safety is paramount; a little caution goes a long way in preventing accidents.

First Year B Pharm Notes, Syllabus, Books, PDF Subjectwise/Topicwise

F Y B Pharm Sem-IS Y B Pharm Sem-II
BP101T Human Anatomy and Physiology I TheoryBP201T Human Anatomy and Physiology II – Theory
BP102T Pharmaceutical Analysis I TheoryBP202T Pharmaceutical Organic Chemistry I Theory
BP103T Pharmaceutics I TheoryBP203T Biochemistry – Theory
BP104T Pharmaceutical Inorganic Chemistry TheoryBP204T Pathophysiology – Theory
BP105T Communication skills TheoryBP205T Computer Applications in Pharmacy Theory
BP106RBT Remedial BiologyBP206T Environmental sciences – Theory
BP106RMT Remedial Mathematics TheoryBP207P Human Anatomy and Physiology II Practical
BP107P Human Anatomy and Physiology PracticalBP208P Pharmaceutical Organic Chemistry I Practical
BP108P Pharmaceutical Analysis I PracticalBP209P Biochemistry Practical
BP109P Pharmaceutics I PracticalBP210P Computer Applications in Pharmacy Practical
BP110P Pharmaceutical Inorganic Chemistry Practical
BP111P Communication skills Practical
BP112RBP Remedial Biology Practical

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