How to mix acid into water

Do it wrong you will regret it. by Harrison Haas

Well, why does it even matter?

First we need to get down to the basics. What reaction occurs between acid and water when you mix them?

How do they react

For this example Im going to use sulphuric acid (H2SO40) because it has a rather marvelous reaction when mixed incorrectly.

The reaction between an acid and a water is exothermic meaning it releases energy during the reaction. In this case, lots of energy. This energy comes from the breaking of bonds between the sulfuric acid and the water.

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Now, the reaction pictured is a hydrolysis reaction, and releases far less energy than does the reaction between H2SO4 and H2O but the concept stays the same and you can see the energy arrows in the image above.

Water is far lighter (less dense) a liquid than sulfuric acid

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Think of the BP oil spill that happened a few years ago. Notice how the oil stays atop the water. this is because it is less dense then the water below it. This same thing happens when you pour water atop an acid.

When you do this a violent reaction ensues and because of the highly exothermic reaction of the acid and the water it emits lots of heat, thus boiling the water. And in addition to getting boiling water all over your face you also get the pleasure of having acid splashed all over your face.

This could be YOU if you mix water into acid

Dangerous Sulphuric Reactions
Go to 1:00 Minute.

(This is not actually what happens, but if you pretend that it is what will happen maybe it will help you avoid making the mistake :) )

Sulphuric acid vs a wet sponge

Acid Use safty


If you add acid into water it will sink right to the bottom of the water in a clump and create a slower reaction.

How to dress in the lab when acid is present:

  1. Goggles should completely cover your eye at all times.
  2. Safety face shield: Wear over the top of any safety glasses or goggles. (if mandated by instructor)
  3. Full-length acid smock to be worn over regular clothing.
  4. Rubber gloves should always be worn.
  5. Hard leather shoes.

Common acids and their properties

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Chart from:

422-2222, U Police. "Acid Safety Manual / Acid Hazard / Acid Handling Instructions / MSDS Information." BYU Cleanroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <>.

And last, if you only remember one thing, think of the Root Beer "A&W", Acid into Water!