Chromic acid

Chromic acid
CAS number 7738-94-5 YesY
PubChem 24425
ChemSpider 22834 YesY
EC number 231-801-5
ChEBI CHEBI:33143 YesY
Gmelin Reference 25982
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Image 2
Molecular formula H2CrO4
Molar mass 118.01 g mol−1
Exact mass 117.935820456 g mol-1
Appearance Red crystals
Density 1.201 g cm-3
Melting point

197 °C, 470 K, 387 °F

Boiling point

250 °C, 523 K, 482 °F (decomposes)

Solubility in water 1666.6 g dm-3
 YesY acid (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

The term chromic acid is usually used for a mixture made by adding concentrated sulfuric acid to a dichromate, which may contain a variety of compounds, including solid chromium trioxide. This kind of chromic acid may be used as a cleaning mixture for glass. Chromic acid may also refer to the molecular species, H2CrO4 of which the trioxide is the anhydride. Chromic acid features chromium in an oxidation state of +6 (or VI). It is a strong and corrosive oxidising agent.


Molecular chromic acid

Partial predominance diagram for chromate

Molecular chromic acid, H2CrO4, has much in common with sulfuric acid, H2SO4. Both are classified as strong acids, though only the first proton is lost easily.

H2CrO4 is in equilibrium with , [HCrO4] + H+

The pKa for the equilibrium is not well characterized. Reported values vary between about −0.8 to 1.6.[1] The value at zero ionic strength is difficult to determine because half dissociation only occurs in very acidic solution, at about pH zero, that is, with an acid concentration of about 1 mol dm−3. A further complication is that the ion [HCrO4] has a marked tendency to dimerize, with the loss of a water molecule, to form the dichromate ion, [Cr2O7]2−

2 [HCrO4] is in equilibrium with [Cr2O7]2− + H2O, log KD = 2.05.

Furthermore, The dichromate can be protonated.

[HCr2O7] is in equilibrium with [Cr2O7]2− + H+, pK = 1.8[2]

The pK value for this reaction shows that is can be ignored at pH > 4.

Loss of the second proton occurs in the pH range 4–8, making the ion [HCrO4] a weak acid.

Molecular chromic acid could in principle be made by adding chromium trioxide to water (c.f. manufacture of sulfuric acid).

CrO3 + H2O is in equilibrium with H2CrO4

but in practice the reverse reaction occurs when molecular chromic acid is dehydrated. This is what happens when concentrated sulfuric acid is added to a dichromate solution. At first the colour changes from orange (dichromate) to red (chromic acid) and then deep red crystals of chromium trioxide precipitate from the mixture, without further colour change. The colours are due to LMCT charge transfer transitions.

Chromium trioxide is the anydride of molecular chromic acid. It is a Lewis acid and can react with a Lewis base, such as pyridine in a non-aqueous medium such as dichloromethane (Collins reagent).

Dichromic acid

Dichromic acid, H2Cr2O7, (structure illustrated top right) is the fully protonated form of the dichromate ion and also can be seen as the product of adding chromium trioxide to molecular chromic acid.

[Cr2O7]2− + 2H+ is in equilibrium with H2Cr2O7 is in equilibrium with H2CrO4 + CrO3

It is probably present in chromic acid cleaning mixtures along with the mixed chromic-sulfuric acid H2CrSO7[citation needed]


Chromic acid is an intermediate in chromium plating, and is also used in ceramic glazes, and colored glass. Because a solution of chromic acid in sulfuric acid (also known as a sulfochromic mixture or chromosulfuric acid) is a powerful oxidizing agent, it can be used to clean laboratory glassware, particularly of otherwise insoluble organic residues. This application has declined due to environmental concerns.[3] Furthermore the acid leaves trace amounts of paramagnetic chromic ions — Cr(III) — that can interfere with certain applications, such as NMR spectroscopy. This is especially the case for NMR tubes.[4]

Chromic acid was widely used in the instrument repair industry, due to its ability to "brighten" raw brass. A chromic acid dip leaves behind a bright yellow patina on the brass. Due to growing health and environmental concerns, many have discontinued use of this chemical in their repair shops.


Chromic acid is capable of oxidizing many kinds of organic compounds and many variations on this reagent have been developed:

  • Chromic acid in aqueous sulfuric acid and acetone is known as the Jones reagent, which will oxidize primary and secondary alcohols to carboxylic acids and ketones respectively, while rarely affecting unsaturated bonds.[5]
  • Pyridinium chlorochromate is generated from chromium trioxide and pyridinium chloride. This reagent converts primary alcohols to the corresponding aldehydes (R-CHO).[5]
  • Collins reagent is an adduct of chromium trioxide and pyridine used for diverse oxidations.
  • Chromyl chloride, CrO2Cl2 is a well-defined molecular compound that is generated from chromic acid.

Illustrative transformations

  • Oxidation of methylbenzenes to benzoic acids.[6]
  • Oxidative scission of indene to homophthalic acid.[7]
  • Oxidation of secondary alcohol to ketone (cyclooctanone)[8] and nortricyclanone.[9]

Use in qualitative organic analysis

In organic chemistry, dilute solutions of hexavalent chromium can be used to oxidize primary or secondary alcohols to the corresponding aldehydes and ketones. Tertiary alcohol groups are unaffected. Because of the oxidation is signaled by a color change from orange to a blue-green, chromic acid is used as a qualitative analytical test for the presence of primary or secondary alcohols.[5]

Alternative reagents

In oxidations of alcohols or aldehydes into carboxylic acids, chromic acid is one of several reagents, including several that are catalytic. For example nickel(II) salts catalyze oxidations by bleach (hypochlorite).[10] Aldehydes are relatively easily oxidised to carboxylic acids, and mild oxidising agents are sufficient. Silver(I) compounds have been used for this purpose. Each oxidant offers advantages and disadvantages.


Hexavalent chromium compounds are toxic and carcinogenic. For this reason, chromic acid oxidation is not used on an industrial scale.


  1. ^ IUPAC SC-Database A comprehensive database of published data on equilibrium constants of metal complexes and ligands
  2. ^ Brito, F.; Ascanioa, J.; Mateoa, S.; Hernándeza, C.; Araujoa, L.; Gili, P.; Martín-Zarzab, P.; Domínguez, S.; Mederos, A. (1997). "Equilibria of chromate(VI) species in acid medium and ab initio studies of these species". Polyhedron 16 (21): 3835–3846. doi:10.1016/S0277-5387(97)00128-9. 
  3. ^ J. M. McCormick (2006-06-30). "Cleaning Glassware". Truman State University. 
  4. ^ "NMR-010: Proper Cleaning Procedures for NMR Sample Tubes". Wilmad. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  5. ^ a b c Freeman, F. "Chromic Acid" Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis (2001) John Wiley & Sons, doi:10.1002/047084289X.rc164
  6. ^ Kamm O.; Matthews, A. O. (1941), "p-Nitrobenzoic Acid", Org. Synth., ; Coll. Vol. 1: 392 
  7. ^ Grummitt, O.; Egan, R.; Buck, A., "Homophthalic Acid and Anhydride", Org. Synth., ; Coll. Vol. 3: 449 (1955 
  8. ^ Eisenbraun, E. J., "Cyclooctanone", Org. Synth., ; Coll. Vol. 5: 310 (1973 
  9. ^ Meinwald, J.; Crandall, J.; Hymans W. E., "Nortricyclanone", Org. Synth., ; Coll. Vol. 5: 866 
  10. ^ J. M. Grill, J. W. Ogle, S. A. Miller (2006). "An Efficient and Practical System for the Catalytic Oxidation of Alcohols, Aldehydes, and α,β-Unsaturated Carboxylic Acids". J. Org. Chem. 71 (25): 9291–9296. doi:10.1021/jo0612574. PMID 17137354. 


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chromic acid — Chromic Chro mic, a. (Chem.) Pertaining to, or obtained from, chromium; said of the compounds of chromium in which it has its higher valence. [1913 Webster] {Chromic acid}, an acid, {H2CrO4}, analogous to sulphuric acid, not readily obtained in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chromic acid — n. an acid, H2CrO4, existing only in solution or known in the form of its salts …   English World dictionary

  • chromic acid — H2CrO4 or H2Cr2O7; a strong oxidizing agent formed by dissolving chromium trioxide (CrO3) in water. Has been used in solution as a topical antiseptic. * * * chromic acid n an acid H2CrO4 analogous to sulfuric acid but known only in solution and… …   Medical dictionary

  • chromic acid — noun Date: 1800 an acid H2CrO4 analogous to sulfuric acid but known only in solution and especially in the form of its salts …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • chromic acid — noun A corrosive acid, HCrO, known only in solution or as its salts, the chromates (from which it may be prepared); it is a very powerful oxidizing agent. See Also: dichromic acid …   Wiktionary

  • chromic acid — noun an unstable acid known only in solution and as chromate salts (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑acid …   Useful english dictionary

  • chromic acid — a hypothetical acid, H2CrO4, known only in solution or in the form of its salts. [1790 1800] * * * …   Universalium

  • chromic acid — chro′mic ac′id n. chem. a hypothetical acid, H2CrO4, known only in solution or in the form of its salts • Etymology: 1800 …   From formal English to slang

  • chromic acid — /kroʊmɪk ˈæsəd/ (say krohmik asuhd) noun a hypothetical acid, H2CrO4, which exists only in solution and as chromate salts …   Australian English dictionary

  • Chromic acid — Хромовая кислота, водный раствор хромового ангидрида, H2CrO4 …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.