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Organic Acid and Inorganic Acid

Acids are chemical compounds with the ability to neutralize a base and a characteristic sour taste. They are proton donors, on reacting with bases, they produce water and when they react with metals they accelerate corrosion by producing hydrogen gas. At home, citric acid and acetic acid are few common acids found in juices and vinegar respectively. Generally, acids are categorized into organic acids and inorganic acids. let us see how organic acids differ from inorganic acids.

Organic Acid:

An organic acid is an organic compound with acidic properties, e.g. carboxyl acids which are weak acids and do not completely dissociate in a medium such as water. Being organic, a carbon atom must be present in its structure and being acidic its pH value always remains less than 7. Organic acids generally have lesser molecular mass and are miscible unlike organic acids with high molecular mass like benzoic acids which are not miscible in neutral form.

Some simple forms of organic acids are less reactive to mineral acids which make them a great choice for the treatment or prevention of corrosion in several industries. Furthermore, some other forms of organic acids like citrate and lactate are generally used as buffer solutions. Being acids, organic acids can dissolve iron oxides without damaging the metal, unlike other stronger acids. Organic acids are more beneficial when used in their dissociated form as it makes them capable of chelating metal ions that tend to accelerate the removal of rust.

Inorganic Acid:

Inorganic acids, which are also known as mineral acids, are the acids which are derived from one or more inorganic compounds. All inorganic acids, when dissolved in water, produce hydrogen ions (H+) and the conjugate base ions. They are corrosive and highly soluble in water but less soluble or insoluble in organic solvents.

Inorganic acids are compounds which comprise hydrogen and non-metallic elements or their groups, e.g. Hydrochloric acid (HCL), Nitric acid (HNO3), etc. They are either oxoacids or oxygenless and based on the number of hydrogen atoms they can be mono, di, or tribasic. Some common examples of oxygenless acids include hydrochloric acid (HCL) and hydrofluoric acid (HF) which are monobasic; and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) which is a dibasic organic acid.

Inorganic acids are the most commonly used acids in the laboratories, some of which are as follows

  • Hydrochloric acid (HCL)
  • Nitric acid (HNO3 )
  • Phosphoric acid ( H3PO4 )
  • Sulphuric acid (H2SO4 )
  • Boric acid (H3BO3) etc.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between organic acid and inorganic acids are as follows:

Organic Acid Inorganic Acid
It is an organic compound with acidic properties. It is an inorganic compound with acidic properties.
It contains carbon atoms, e.g. a carbon skeleton. Most of the inorganic acids lack the carbon atoms.
Generally, they are weak acids. Generally, they are strong acids.
Generally, it is insoluble in water sometimes miscible with water. Generally, It is soluble in water.
It is soluble in organic solvents. It is insoluble in organic solvents.
It has a biological origin. It does not have any biological origin.
It accelerates the removal of rust by chelating metal ions. It is highly corrosive, reacts easily with metals and causes corrosion.
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