Hydrochloric acid is a clear, colorless, highly pungent solution of hydrogen chloride (HCl) in water. It is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses.
Hydrogen chloride (HCl) is a monoprotic acid, which means it can dissociate (i.e., ionize) only once to give up one H+ ion (a single proton). In aqueous hydrochloric acid, the H+ joins a water molecule to form a hydronium ion, H3O+:
HCl + H2O → H3O+ + Cl−
The other ion formed is Cl−, the chloride ion.
Hydrochloric acid is frequently used in chemical analysis to prepare ("digest") samples for analysis. Concentrated hydrochloric acid dissolves many metals and forms oxidized metal chlorides and hydrogen gas, and it reacts with basic compounds such as calcium carbonate or copper (II) oxide, forming the dissolved chlorides that can be analyzed.