It is a colorless, oily-looking, intensely acid liquid, containing 7.5 per cent water. On exposure to the air it absorbs moisture.
Sulphuric acid is a powerful corrosive, and abstracts water from animal and vegetable tissue, leaving carbon. It thus blackens organic matter while destroying its texture.
Concentrated and mixed in a paste with charcoal, sulphuric acid has been used as an escharotic. Diluted, its special action both externally and internally is that of an astringent.
When swallowed in concentrated form it corrodes the alimentary canal, causing acute pain of the mouth, throat, and epigastrium. The tongue and lining of the mouth are whitened, like parchment, afterwards turning brown, while brown or blackened spots appear on the lips.
There are: violent vomiting, of tarry matters often, cold extremities, and clammy skin; protuse and bloody salivation, suppressed voice, and feeble pulse. The face expresses great suffering and anxiety. The mind is clear. The matters at first vomited are acid, and if they fall on colored articles of dress the color is taken out and the texture destroyed; while on black material brown spots are produced, with an edge of red.
There is sometimes perforation of the stomach or intestines. The symptoms come on immediately after the act of swallowing, and death may result in a few hours, but usually delays for from 18 to 24 hours; occurring, finally, very suddenly. The smallest fatal dose recorded is ʒ i. Usually ℥ i. or more has been taken.
Has a strength of 10 per cent. of the acid. Average dose, e xv.-i mil.
Contains alcohol and aromatics, and acid in a strength of 20 per cent. Both these preparations should be given well diluted, and through a glass tube, to save the teeth from injury.