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Carbonic acid has been known to humanity for many centuries. It was first discovered by Dr. Brownrigg around 1757. The gas from carbonic acid was discovered later by Joseph Black. In 1787 the name Carbonic Acid was given to the molecule about 30 years later. In 1867. Joseph Lister who was surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary discovered that carbonic acid when applied to an open wound after surgery, acted as an antiseptic. It killed the bacteria that formed around the area that had been opened.
Carbonic acid is an inorganic acid and found mostly in liquids. It forms two kinds of salts- the carbonates and the bicarbonates. It has a white color to it while in water. It is not a very strong acid; it can be found in soda pop and many other items. On limestone and calcium, it is corrosive, this causes many caves to form over a period of time. Its chemical formula is H2CO3, it is soluble in water. Carbonic acid has a systematic name known as dimethyl carbonate, but another well-known name is carbon dioxide solution. In ancient times it was known as acid of the air and aerial acid.
Scientists in the chemistry industry believed that carbonic acid could not exist as a pure compound and would decompose into its more sable components, water and carbon dioxide. In 1991, NASA’s scientists were able to make solid H2CO3 samples. In order to do this, they needed to expose a frozen mixture of water and carbon dioxide to high-energy proton radiation, and then warm it to remove the excess water. The remaining carbonic acid was characterized by infrared spectroscopy.
Carbonic acid is found in nature naturally in many forms. It is found in blood because it helps maintain a stable pH level in the body. It is also found in acid rain, fermentation, coal, ground water, oceans, volcanoes, amino acids, proteins, and sulfur deposits.
Carbonic Acid Uses and Applications in the United States
Carbonic acid may not be commonly known to the majority of people, but it is a common chemical. It is used for a variety of purposes in many countries around the world.
Carbonic acid has many functions, but it is widely used in bubbly drinks, like soda or sparkling wine. Carbonic acid is used in many industries in a variety of ways. Such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, food processing, and anesthetics.
Carbonic acid used in the form of salts, carbonic acid can be considered to be a diprotic acid from which two series of salts can be formed- hydrogen carbonates, which contains HCO3 and carbonates, containing CO32-.
Carbonic acid in the blood transports CO2 and acts as a chemical buffer. It plays an important role in respiratory gas exchange to transport carbon dioxide out of the body. It is also important because it will protonate various nitrogen bases in blood serum.
Carbonic acid in soda water or pop, when soda is made CO2 is added in at pressures of around 60 pounds per square inch. This causes the carbon dioxide to dissolve into the liquid, creating carbonic acid. When soda goes “flat” it is because there is no carbonic acid present. This can be explained scientifically by Henry’s Law. Lower the pressure by opening the can and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the liquid will decrease. This way the soda does not explode when it is opened, unless of course the liquid gets shaken.
Carbonic acid can be used to induce vomiting, in cases of drug overdose or poisoning, carbonic acid is given orally to induce vomiting. Although it is not safe to induce vomiting to treat poisoning. When a person vomits poison, it can cause burns and other problems to the esophagus, throat, and mouth. Vomiting also does not fully empty the stomach so it is important to seek professional medical help.
Carbonic acid plays a role in balancing the ecosystem. Like how carbonic acid is formed from dissolving carbon dioxide in soda, this also happened on a much larger scale in freshwater ecosystems. The balance of pH in ecosystems is essential to the well-being of all organisms. pH affects the way an organism will function, and it is important in natural aquatic ecosystems. The pH levels affect the efficiency of enzymes to carry out their processes. Carbonic acid plays a crucial role in the maintenance of pH levels in these ecosystems. It forms bicarbonate and carbonate ions which act as a buffer.
Carbonic Acid Structure
Carbonic acid is a weak acid because it is only partially ionized in a solution. Weak acids do not completely break apart into ions in a solution. The chemical formula of carbonic acid is H2CO3. Its molecular formula is CH2O3, and its molar mass is 62.02 g/mol. Carbonic acid is composed of a carboxyl group with two hydroxyl groups connected. It is identified as an organic compound because it has a carbon atom present. It also has acidic properties, which is why it can be called an acid.
Carbonic Acid Safety, Hazards and Storage
Carbonic acid is not considered toxic or hazardous, it is safe for human consumption within a tolerable acidity. However, exposure at high concentrations can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract. Over many years carbonic acid can corrode matter, like caves for example, under the earth’s surface it can be carved out by carbonic acid. Carbonic acid can also corrode things in the form of acid rain like statues or monuments.
Solutions of carbonic acid can be stored in closed plastic containers in a cool, dry location. Provide ventilation for the containers and avoid storage near extreme heat. Also, it is important to store it away from oxidizing agents. It does not require any special disposal. Carbonic acid can be poured down the drain.