Science, Tech, Math › Science List of Strong and Weak Acids Important to Know, Both for Chemistry Class and for Use in the Lab Share Flipboard Email Print ThoughtCo. Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated January 27, 2020 Strong and weak acids are important to know both for chemistry class and for use in the lab. There are very few strong acids, so one of the easiest ways to tell strong and weak acids apart is to memorize the short list of strong ones. Any other acid is considered a weak acid. Key Takeaways Strong acids completely dissociate into their ions in water, while weak acids only partially dissociate.There are only a few (7) strong acids, so many people choose to memorize them. All the other acids are weak.The strong acids are hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrobromic acid, hydroiodic acid, perchloric acid, and chloric acid.The only weak acid formed by the reaction between hydrogen and a halogen is hydrofluoric acid (HF). While technically a weak acid, hydrofluoric acid is extremely powerful and highly corrosive. Strong Acids Strong acids dissociate completely into their ions in water, yielding one or more protons (hydrogen cations) per molecule. There are only 7 common strong acids. HCl - hydrochloric acidHNO3 - nitric acidH2SO4 - sulfuric acid (HSO4- is a weak acid)HBr - hydrobromic acidHI - hydroiodic acidHClO4 - perchloric acidHClO3 - chloric acid Examples of ionization reactions include: HCl → H+ + Cl- HNO3 → H+ + NO3- H2SO4 → 2H+ + SO42- Note the production of positively charged hydrogen ions and also the reaction arrow, which only points to the right. All of the reactant (acid) is ionized into product. Weak Acids Weak acids do not completely dissociate into their ions in water. For example, HF dissociates into the H+ and F- ions in water, but some HF remains in solution, so it is not a strong acid. There are many more weak acids than strong acids. Most organic acids are weak acids. Here is a partial list, ordered from strongest to weakest. HO2C2O2H - oxalic acid H2SO3 - sulfurous acidHSO4 - - hydrogen sulfate ionH3PO4 - phosphoric acidHNO2 - nitrous acidHF - hydrofluoric acidHCO2H - methanoic acidC6H5COOH - benzoic acidCH3COOH - acetic acidHCOOH - formic acid Weak acids incompletely ionize. An example reaction is the dissociation of ethanoic acid in water to produce hydroxonium cations and ethanoate anions: CH3COOH + H2O ⇆ H3O+ + CH3COO- Note the reaction arrow in the chemical equation points both directions. Only about 1% of ethanoic acid converts to ions, while the remainder is ethanoic acid. The reaction proceeds in both directions. The back reaction is more favorable than the forward reaction, so ions readily change back to weak acid and water. Distinguishing Between Strong and Weak Acids You can use the acid equilibrium constant Ka or pKa to determine whether an acid is strong or weak. Strong acids have high Ka or small pKa values, weak acids have very small Ka values or large pKa values. Strong and Weak Vs. Concentrated and Dilute Be careful not to confuse the terms strong and weak with concentrated and dilute. A concentrated acid is one that contains a low amount of water. In other words, the acid is concentrated. A dilute acid is an acidic solution that contains a lot of solvent. If you have 12 M acetic acid, it's concentrated, yet still a weak acid. No matter how much water you remove, that will be true. On the flip side, a 0.0005 M HCl solution is dilute, yet still strong. Strong Vs. Corrosive You can drink diluted acetic acid (the acid found in vinegar), yet drinking the same concentration of sulfuric acid would give you a chemical burn. The reason is that sulfuric acid is highly corrosive, while acetic acid is not as active. While acids tend to be corrosive, the strongest superacids (carboranes) are actually not corrosive and could be held in your hand. Hydrofluoric acid, while a weak acid, would pass through your hand and attack your bones.