I was thinking about everyones favorite alien the Xenomorph the other day and their particularly nasty “acid” blood (I put acid in quotes because all we know is that it is corrosive, not necesarily acidic).
Do such increadibly corrosive substances exist? Are their chemicals that, only a few onces, couold eat through several inches of steel in seconds?
The most acidic material I’ve ever come across is in the Iron Mountain mines near Redding, California. It’s an old copper/zinc/gold/silver/pyrite mine that’s been abandoned for a number of years now, and is on the Superfund cleanup list. Researchers exploring the mine to determine the source of low acidity groundwater discharge found waters with pH levels as low as -3.6.
Quoting from the above web page:
I don’t think Tom and Becky would have lasted long in there.
Acidic stomach contents are pretty mild compared to things like nitric and hydrofluoric acid. Vomiting up stomach acid just burns a bit, and it takes months or years of chronic exposure to the acids to make an esophagus scarred or pre-cancerous. But if drinking hydroflouric acid doesn’t kill you on the way down, vomiting it back up pretty much ensures it will finish the job.
It’s not a liquid at room temperature so it’s probably not an “acid” in the sense we’re discussing, but pure gaseous fluorine is probably the most aggressive corrosant in existence. It will attack anything except noble gases and substances that are already completely fluoridated.