What Is Phosphoric Acid Used For?

Reviewed on 3/26/2021
Most of the phosphoric acid produced is used to make fertilizers.
Most of the phosphoric acid produced is used to make fertilizers.

The uses of phosphoric acid (H3PO4) are described below.

Agriculture:

Most of the phosphoric acid produced is used to make fertilizers. It is mainly converted into three phosphate salts that are used as fertilizers. They are as follows:

  • Triple superphosphate (TSP)
  • Diammonium hydrogen phosphate (DAP)
  • Monoammonium dihydrogen phosphate (MAP)

Phosphoric acid is also used in the supplement in feed given to cattle, pigs, and poultry.

Food additives:

Dilute solutions of phosphoric acid have a pleasant acidic taste. Hence, it is used as a food additive. It imparts acidic properties to

  • Soft drinks.
  • Other readymade foods.
  • Water treatment products.

Manufacturing process:

  • Phosphoric acid is used in the manufacture of
  • Gelatin.
  • Soil stabilizer.
  • Waxes and polishes.
  • Binder for ceramics.
  • Activated carbon.
  • In lakes in cotton dyeing.

Medical applications:

Personal care:

Phosphoric acid is essential for a wide range of personal care products, including:

  • Cleansing products
  • Bath products
  • Fragrances
  • Haircare products
  • Nail products
  • Makeup
  • Skincare products
  • Phosphoric acid is also used to control the pH of these products.

Rust removal:

Phosphoric acid is commonly used for rust removal. Phosphoric acid, when applied to the rust, reacts with the rust in metals such as steel and iron. Next, it converts the rust into an easily removable black-colored compound.

Other uses:

Other uses of phosphoric acid include:

  • Automotive care products
  • Batteries
  • Cleaners for semiconductor industry
  • Cleaning and furnishing care products
  • Electrical and electronic products
  • Food packaging
  • Fuels and related products
  • Laundry and dishwashing products
  • Lawn and garden care products
  • Metal products not covered elsewhere
  • Paints and coatings
  • Paper products
  • Photographic supplies, film, and photo chemicals
  • Plastic and rubber products not covered elsewhere
  • Resales
  • Chemical distribution
  • Industrial fermentation media
  • Cleaners in plating processes for automotive and machinery

What are the safety concerns with phosphoric acid?

Phosphoric acid may cause acute or chronic health effects. Acute health effects may occur immediately or shortly after exposure to phosphoric acid:

Long-term or chronic effects include:

What is the treatment for phosphoric acid poisoning?

If you get exposed to phosphoric acid, you can follow some first-aid instructions before seeking medical help. If phosphoric acid comes in contact with your skin and eyes, immediately flush the area with lots of water for at least 30 minutes.

If you ingest phosphoric acid, rinse your mouth with water. Stop rinsing if you start vomiting and lean forward to reduce aspiration (accidental entry of fluids or solids into the airway) risk. Then resume rinsing the mouth with water.

If you breathe in the chemical, immediately go and get fresh air.

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References
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Phosphoric-acid#section=Boiling-Point

https://www.nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1516.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/phosphoric-acid

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