Phosphoric acid (H3PO4) naturally occurs as a white solid or a colorless, viscous (thick) liquid and is derived from phosphate rock. The percentage – in this case, 85% – is determined by how much of this thick liquid or solid is added to one liter of water; hence “phosphoric acid 85%” signifies a mixture of 15% water and 85% phosphoric acid.
Phosphoric acid 85% has a wide range of uses for the chemical industry, including
- phosphoric acid is the only acid used in colas since its “bite” is complementary to the cola flavor
- phosphoric acid is added to jams and jellies to enhance preservative properties and jelly clarity
- the weakly acidic salt of phosphoric acid (NaH2PO) is combined with sodium bicarbonate to create baking soda
metal cleaning and rust removal
- catalyzes the “setting” of resins
- removes plaque, and
- cleans teeth and abrades tooth surfaces before dental appliances are inserted.
Because phosphoric acid 85% has a pH below 7, it carries acidic characteristics, such as corrosive behaviors and/or bitter taste. Examples of the corrosive behaviors include metal and dental cleaning, while the bitter taste is most obviously noted in cola beverages. Knowing these properties, how is phosphoric acid able to pull off the added responsibility of improving the shelf life of jelly? Along with its catalytic properties, which would cause corrosion or cleansing properties, phosphoric acid is also dehydrating – it causes water to leave a system. Since water contributes to shortened shelf life when it lurks within a product, adding phosphoric acid elongates the storage time of many foods. Realizing this property, along with the fact that phosphoric acid 85% is a stable chemical that does not react violently; it is obvious why phosphoric acid is widely utilized in such a vast array of applications.
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