What Household Products Contain Sulfuric Acid?

Sulfuric acid is an incredibly corrosive acid form of sulfur. It is used in a wide variety of industrial processes, from byproducts of large-scale mining operations to bleaching flour to fruit and vegetable preservation. It is also a common ingredient in many household products, especially cleaning products. Its corrosive properties can make it dangerous.

Household Items

Sulfuric acid is in numerous household cleaners, particularly toilet bowl cleaners and drain de-cloggers. It is also in some powdered laundry detergents, pet-care products, rust-dissolving solutions, metal cleaners, hand soaps, dish-washing liquids and rain repellents used to prevent streaking on automobiles as well as some products associated with glass-making and other arts and crafts. Not all brands of these products include sulfuric acid.

Dangers

Sulfuric acid in household products can be dangerous in two distinct ways. As a corrosive acid, it can burn through human skin and many household surfaces and materials. It is also reactive, meaning that one household item accidentally combined with another household item may create some form of sulfuric acid, such as when a cleaner containing sodium bisulfate mixes with water.

Safe Handling

The most important and most effective step for the safe handling of a product containing sulfuric acid is to follow the product's directions and safety warning meticulously. If the directions and/or safety warning advises the product's user to wear gloves, then the chances are good that exposure to the product causes severe skin burns. Some forms of sulfuric acid are so corrosive that they can break down containers in which they are stored. Therefore, avoid transferring a product containing sulfuric acid to a container different from the one in which the product was purchased.

Other Considerations

When you cut an onion, the onion's cell walls break open and release propanethiol S-oxide. When that chemical mixes with the water in your eyeballs, it creates a form of sulfuric acid. If you had that experience, then you know just how much pain even a small amount of sulfuric acid can cause. If anyone in your home experiences health effects related to sulfuric acid exposure, contact a poison control center or a medical professional immediately.