How come acid can’t dissolve ceramic or glass vials but it can go through metal?

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How come acid can’t dissolve ceramic or glass vials but it can go through metal?

In: Chemistry

Metal reacts with the acid while the ceramic and glass do not. Glass is sand which is pretty much rock.

It’s about how chemically reactive the materials are, not how strong they are. Metals are fairly reactive, in some cases they form oxide layers on top that block further reactions, but acids can strip away the oxide layer, making the base metal weaker to further reactions. Ceramic is much less chemically reactive

Note that aluminium is so easily destroyed by acid that cans of carbonated drink have a layer of plastic inside to stop the acidic pop/soda/juice from actually touching the aluminum

Most acids have the H+ ion as the active part (technically H3O+ but let’s keep it simple). H+ is an oxidizer, which means it takes electrons. Metals are reducers, which means they have electrons to spare. Ceramics have no electrons to spare, they are oxides of elements like aluminium or silicon, they are already oxidized. Therefore, H+ reacts with metals and does not react with ceramics.

Some acids are more than just H+, however.Hydrofluoric acid has the ion F-, which is a powerful complexing agent, so it reacts with ceramics.

Acids contain an atom or molecule that likes to take electrons and a hydrogen atom. Metals either like to give up electrons or are pretty indifferent about how many electrons they have. Because it’s easier for the atom or molecule to take an electron from the metal than the hydrogen atom, it gets rid of the hydrogen atom and reacts with the metal atoms

Glasses and ceramics already contain elements that like to take electrons. The atoms or molecules of the acid have to be stronger at taking away electrons than the elements in the ceramic in order to react.