The One Where We Put Stuff in Acid

Watch as Reactions uses some acid know-how to tell a chemistry detective story and sort real gold from the imposters.

Acids are reactive, and even weak acids like vinegar can wow people with their reactivity. But strong acids can really put on a show, dissolving otherwise relatively inert metals. And aqua regia, or royal water, is a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids that can dissolve gold, a noble metal.

Find us on all these places:

Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D.

Alexa Billow

Sean Parsons

Fact Checker:
Kyle Nackers

Scientific consultants:
Matt Hartings, Ph.D.
Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D.

“Dance Floor” by bhzimmy
“Nylon Flares” by EasyAccessMusic

History of nitric acid

Industrial uses sulphuric acid

Quantitative Chemical Analysis, 6e, by DC Harris. WH Freeman © 2003

Inorganic Chemistry, 2e, by Shirver, Atkins, and Langford. WH Freeman © 1994

Ever wonder why dogs sniff each others’ butts? Or how Adderall works? Or whether it’s OK to pee in the pool? We’ve got you covered: Reactions a web series about the chemistry that surrounds you every day.

Reactions is produced by the American Chemical Society.

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