The effects of acid rain. Image credit

The effects of acid rain. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment To show the effect of sulphuric acid on some materials

Aim: To show the effect of sulphuric acid on some materials

Materials: dilute sulphuric acid, wood, copper, plastic, iron, steel, aluminium, solid cement, brick, granite, limestone, marble/mortar, piece of tin can, plastic lids


  1. Into each plastic lid place a different material
  2. Half fill each test tube with dilute sulphuric acid (which is more concentrated than acid rain to speed up the reaction) and pour it into each lid
  3. Leave the materials to stand for a day or two

Observation and Results

  • Wood is partially hydrolyzed which results in it loosing its strong structure and it becomes weak and can easily be broken.
  • Aluminum reacts very slowly and is corroded as it forms aluminum sulphate which is structurally weak
  • Iron is corroded by sulphuric acid
  • Copper remains intact
  • Some plastics might be corroded by sulphuric acid but most do not so the plastic will likely remain intact
  • Steel is corroded and so is limestone
  • The acid also decomposes marble/mortar and reacts/weakens/corrodes cement


  • Most construction materials react with sulphuric acid

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page

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