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Acids and bases are an essential part of many industries. They are used to make fertilizer, cleaning supplies, in research, nuclear waste storage and countless other applications. When using these substances, care and safety must be first in mind.
Sulfuric acid, the most widely used acid, is utilized in the iron and steel industry to remove rust from products such as cars before they are sold. Boric acid pools are used to store nuclear waste at power plants. Nitric acid is used to create fertilizers and dyes. Many other acids are used in making explosives.
Bases, one the most commonly produced of which is ammonia, are often found in cleaning agents. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is used for a wide variety of applications, from making paper to making soaps. Citric acid, like that found in oranges, can be used to soften water.
Both acids and bases can cause severe contact burns if applied directly to the skin. Contrary to popular belief, immediately running an affected area under water may not be the best solution. When working with a base or acid, be sure to know the proper safety procedures.