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Acids That Dissolve Metals or Organic Material

Acids are often used to dissolve metals or organic material. However, certain material are more difficult to dissolve. They require more potent and specialized acid solutions like aqua regia for dissolving gold or platiunum and piranha for clean organic material from the surface of silcon or gold. Presented here is also a list of acidic solutions that are used to dissolve various metals or organic material. The acidic conditions given in the Table of Acids That Dissolve Metals are appropriate for etching thin metal films where the dissolving process must be carried out in a controlled manner.

Aqua Regia nd Piranha Solutions

Aqua Regia Solution
Flask of Aqua Regia Solution Dissolving a Metal
  • 3 parts HCl to 1 part HNO3
  • Excellent oxidant
  • Can dissolve gold and platinum
  • Produces yellow fumes from the the reaction of HCl and HNO3 to produce nitrosyl chloride, NOCl, chlorine gas, Cl2, and water, H2O.

Piranha Solution
The teeth of a piranha fish; acidic piranha solutions have a "bite" as well!
  • 5 parts H2SO4 to 1 part H2O2
  • Excellent oxidant
  • Removes most organic residues.
  • Safety Note: Always add peroxide to sulfuric acid, never vice versa!
  • This is a self-heating solution that may even boil when mixed.

Table of Acids That Dissolve Metals
Gold, Au Aqua regia solution, HCl / HNO3 (3:1)
Platinum, Pt Hot aqua regia solution, HCl / HNO3 (3:1)
Silver, Ag NH4OH / H2O2 (1:1)
Palladium, Pd Hot aqua regia solution, HCl / HNO3 (3:1)
Copper, Cu H2O / HNO3 (1:5)
Chromium, Cr HCl / H2O2 (3:1)
Nickel, Ni HF / HNO3 (1:1)
Lead, Pb Acetic acid, HC2H3O2 / H2O (1:1) or dilute HNO3
Molybdenum, Mo Hot concentrated H2SO4
Tin, Sn HF / HNO3 (1:1) or HF / HCl (1:1)
Titanium, Ti HF / HNO3 / H2O (1:1:50) or H2O / HF / H2O2 / H2O (1:1:20) or HF / H2O / ethylene glycol (2:1:22)
Iron , Fe H2SO4 / H2O (1:1) or HCl / H2O (1:1) or HNO3 / H2O (1:1)
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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
 
Brewton-Parker College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brewton-Parker College.
 
Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM