How to Dissolve Iron


Iron doesn't dissolve readily in water, although it will definitely rust more rapidly (as you've probably noticed from experience). Hydrochloric acid, however, can dissolve iron, and a more concentrated solution will dissolve it more rapidly. This simple experiment makes a great way to study reaction kinetics, but it does pose some possible hazards. First of all, it releases highly flammable hydrogen gas, so it should be performed under a fume hood. Moreover, hydrochloric acid is also a hazardous chemical if misused; it's especially important to avoid spilling it on skin or eyes. With these cautions in mind, you can dissolve iron using hydrochloric acid.

Things You'll Need

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Lab coat
  • Iron nail
  • Beaker
  • 1 molar hydrochloric acid
  • Fume hood
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Don your safety equipment, including goggles, gloves and coat. Make sure you have closed-toed shoes on.

  • Place the iron nail in the beaker. It's preferable to use a nail short enough so it will fit at the bottom of the beaker, since that way you can submerge it completely in the HCl.

  • Place the beaker and hydrochloric acid in the fume hood, together with your graduated cylinder. Make sure it is switched on and running properly (consult the manufacturer's instructions for specifics).

  • Measure out 100 mL of the 1 molar HCl using your graduated cylinder and pour it over the iron nail.

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