Created By: Temyx on March 15, 2008

Acid Corodes

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Do We Have This One?? Hollywood Science at its best, any liquid described as "acid" will eat away at and completely dissolve skin, and muscle, leaving only bone. (Or sometimes nothing at all.) While something with an extreme enough pH number can, in fact, do this, the problem is that bases (high pH) corode flesh. Acids (low pH) burn. May be justifed if the word "flourine" comes up, but it never does. Even if it did, flourine is a ridiculously reactive element (it corrodes glass), not an acid. This would make it the elemental equivalent of the Virus Misnomer.

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Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • March 15, 2008
    Superman III has an acid that becomes super corrosive if it heats up enough. Not sure if acid can eat through metal, though.
  • March 15, 2008
    Acid can, at least in theory, dissolve metal. It makes more sense than it dissolving flesh. The original poster got it the wrong way round in that acids have low pH and bases have high pH. Still, acids do burn rather than actually dissolving flesh unless they're very strong (a friend of mine burnt himself deliberately with concentrated nitric acid to demonstrate this). Hydrofluoric acid is nasty stuff though - we in the chemistry department don't use it unless there's really no alternative, as it not only gives you nasty chemical burns but poisons you as well. The strongest acid in the world is a mixture of antimony pentafluoride and hydrogen fluoride, and is strong enough to protonate just about anything you throw into the reaction mixture. Even stuff that theoretically doesn't react with acid.
  • March 15, 2008
    Fixed the pH error. And I doubt any movie or show aside from a documentary will give someone that much of a Chemistry Lesson.
  • March 15, 2008
    How about the trope of liquids eating through the floor?
  • March 15, 2008
    Alien, anyone?
  • March 15, 2008
    Alien blood just resulted in chemical burns, didn't it?
  • March 16, 2008
    It dissolved a xenomorph-sized hole in a deck of a spaceship in the fourth movie. And a hole in a spaceship window, too if memory serves me right.

    Which reminds me of a Donald Duck story by Don Rosa, "The universal Solvent".
  • March 16, 2008
    I meant when it came into contact with humans.
  • March 16, 2008
    Modern Marvels TV show did an episode on acids.

    I believe that acids can cause serious burns but they don't "dissolve" away your flesh, except for the most extreme strong acids and even they take hours to do so.

    Basically, Reality Is Unrealistic, because while acid will dissolve flesh and metals and floors, it will not do so instantly. Also, almost all acid solutions, are dangerous not for dissolving flesh but for burning flesh and damaging lungs if breathed in.
  • March 17, 2008
    A very memorable example is found in the AMC series Breaking Bad. Two characters have to dispose of a body. One character is a Chemistry teacher, and thus, knowledgeable of such things and decides to use acid, specifically Hydrofluoric acid (which can dissolve flesh). He tells his dimwitted sidekick to pick up a specific type of plastic tub and to NOT put the body in the bathtub, because HF will dissolve metal even more quickly than flesh. Of course, what does the sidekick do?, leading to a very... messy hole in the ceiling (did I mention said tub was on the SECOND FLOOR).
  • July 22, 2009
    Highlord Asehujiko
    Another thing blatantly ignored in most fiction is that acid fumes are dangerous on their own as well. Hydrochloric acid fumes for example corrode just as bad as liquid acid and when it's spilled on something vulnerable, it produces chlorine gas which is highly toxic in itself and when it comes into contact with water(like in the inside of human respiratory systems) it goes back to being acid.

    90% of the time the main character investigates the holes by hovering his head inches above it.
  • July 22, 2009
    @Fanra: The Batman/Superman episode World's Finest both subverts this and plays it straight, kinda. When the Joker leaves Superman for dead and Batman trapped in one of Luthor's laboratories, Batman begins looking for ways to escape. He finds a container of H Cl. He notes that it will take a week to eat through the wall of the room they're in (they only have seconds to live), but it will destroy the kryptonite immediately.
  • September 20, 2009
    Hah - yup, this one's always bugged me. The worst usage I've seen was in an Aliens comic. Not only did they have the quote that, "Trying to build an armour that could resist the xenomorph's blood proved too bulky," (Um, we have this thing called plastic...), but later on showed a chunk of exploding xenomorph pierce the cheek of an unprotected soldier and carry on through the other cheek without apparently slowing at all.

    Not to mention the complete ignorance it seems of the effect of strong alkalines, which are just as deadly, just to different things.
  • December 13, 2009
  • December 13, 2009
    Isn't this just a prime element of Hollywood Acid? -which, I see by the red text, was never launched. Hmmm.