Acid in the real world from what I've seen is either very slow or pretty much just liquid dynamite.

Is this a rule or can I have an acid that can melt things very fast without releasing so much heat or air pressure as to cause explosions?

TLDR: I want a fast acting and strong acid that doesn't cause explosions.

How fast, how strong? I don't know the limit.

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    $\begingroup$ Acid from the real world is not particularly fast acting, unless the stuff being acting upon cooperates; and most real world ordinary stuff is not particularly cooperative with acids. On the other hand, any kind of fast chemical reaction will release a lot of heat. (If a chemical reaction happens spontaneously this means that the products of reaction have less energy than the reactants. This difference in energy is released as heat. If the reactions goes on speedily, heat is released equally speedily.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 10 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ This question might be better asked on Chemistry. An explosion is what you get when things happen so fast that it (e.g.) throws matter out at an undesirable speed or creates a concussion wave in the atmosphere. It's imaginable to (e.g.) heat a bar of iron such that it liquefies and runs away, but we must heat it evenly or the temperature differential between the surface and core causes, well... explosive behavior (ever dropped hot grease in cold water?). However, if a chemical does exist that can melt things quickly without an explosive effect, the folks over at Chemistry would know. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Feb 10 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH pretty sure my question would've been closed there because I didn't do any research, all I know about chemistry is sparse things I've read on wikipedia and seen in movies, I never did chemistry in school above elementary level. $\endgroup$
    – Xenophile
    Commented Feb 10 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because this is a better fit for chemistry.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10 at 21:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Blue Just to make a point, it should be closed here for not doing any research. Prior research on Stack Exchange is mandatory. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Feb 11 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


An acid acts by helping molecules going from a state of high free energy to a state with lower free energy, and in doing so the difference in free energy is released as heat.

It is straightforward seeing that the faster an acid reacts, the more energy is released in the same amount of time, and that's exactly what explosions are: a lot of energy released in a short time.

So, to answer your question: no, you can't have a fast acting acid that doesn't have the side effects of a fast release of energy.


Acids work by donating protons (aka hydrogen ions). This causes a chemical reaction with the thing being dissolved. This is the mechanics of acids.

For any given reaction, it will produce a certain amount of heat. That heat can be produced slowly over time if the reaction goes slowly, or produced quickly if the reaction goes quickly.

To have a reaction that goes quickly and doesn't generate heat quickly, we need a reaction that generates less energy per amount of dissolved material. Unfortunately, acids are kind of a one-trick-pony. The only thing they can do is donate protons. They don't have another reaction to do. So they can't really change the balance of heat to melting.


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