According to chemists Matt King et al., sulphuric acid is the world’s most manufactured chemical. Many household products contain sulphuric acid, in amounts ranging from less than one percent to a staggering 99 percent. While sulphuric acid has many uses, in cleaning products especially, it may have adverse effects on the environment, according to environmental scientists John F. Mongillo and Linda Zierdt-Warshaw.
High sulphuric acid content
According to veterinary consultants Gary D. Osweiler at al., metal cleaners have 10 to 20 percent sulphuric acid. The acid is used because it has a chemical reaction with metal than can help remove the tarnish. Some batteries contain 25 to 30 percent, which is why dead batteries need to be disposed of correctly. Toilet bowl cleaners have up to 80 percent and drain cleaners contain between 95 and 99 percent.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency
The UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not compile a household products database, like the equivalent organisations of some nations. However, it does produce a general information sheet. In terms of household products, The Health Protection Agency says sulphuric acid is used in the production of dyes, toothpaste, glues, rubber, lubricants, citric or lactic acid, edible oils and other foodstuffs. Phosphate fertilisers account for the most significant use of sulphuric acid, according to the HPA.
The UK and beyond
Some products easily accessible to UK consumers from abroad via the internet, if not in UK shops, contain sulphuric acid, including Nutrafin PH Adjust Down, Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream and Eagle One MAG Wheel Cleaner. Four Arm & Hammer products have between 2 and 4 percent sulphuric acid. These are Arm & Hammer FabriCare Advanced Detergent Action with Color-Safe Bleach, Arm & Hammer FabriCare Perfume & Dye Free Detergent, Arm & Hammer FabriCare Advanced Detergent Action, Clean Mountain Scent and Arm & Hammer FabriCare Powder Detergent. It could be the case, of course, that some companies fail to report the sulphuric acid content of their products.
Low sulphuric acid content
According to manufacturers Henkel, Loctite Naval Jelly Rust Dissolver has a sulphuric acid level of between 0.1 and 1 percent. Loctite Aluminum Jelly Rust Dissolver contains sulphuric acid in the same reported range, as does Loctite Sink Jelly and Loctite Duro Aluminum Jelly Corrosion Remover. The Material Data Safety Sheet for DAP Silicone-Be-Gone also reports a sulphuric acid level of 0.1 and 1 percent.
- “Sulfuric Acid Manufacture”; Matt King, Michael Moats, William G.I. Davenport and Matthew J. King; 2005
- “Encyclopedia of Environmental Science”; John F. Mongillo, Linda Zierdt-Warshaw; 2000
- “Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult Clinical Companion: Small Animal ...”; Gary D. Osweiler, Lynn R. Hovda, Ahna G. Brutlag, Justine A. Lee (Editors); 2011
- Health Protection Agency: Sulphuric acid - General information
- Henkel: Material Safety Data Sheet
- Whatsinproducts.com: DAP Silicone-Be-Gone
- Getty Thinkstock