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Hydrogen Chloride vs. Hydrochloric Acid — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 16, 2024
Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) is a colorless gas at room temperature, while Hydrochloric Acid is an aqueous solution where hydrogen chloride gas is dissolved in water.
Hydrogen Chloride vs. Hydrochloric Acid — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Hydrogen Chloride and Hydrochloric Acid


Key Differences

Hydrogen Chloride is a diatomic molecule consisting of one hydrogen and one chlorine atom. Hydrochloric Acid forms when hydrogen chloride is dissolved in water, creating a strong acid.
As a gas, hydrogen chloride is often used in chemical synthesis and has a sharp, pungent odor. Hydrochloric Acid is a liquid with a corrosive nature and is used in various industrial and laboratory applications.
In its gaseous state, hydrogen chloride can form white fumes in moist air, indicating its high reactivity with water. The resulting hydrochloric acid is a key component in gastric acid, aiding in digestion.
Hydrogen Chloride can be released in industrial processes, requiring careful handling due to its toxicity and corrosiveness. Hydrochloric Acid, on the other hand, is widely used for its properties in pH control and cleaning.
Hydrogen Chloride in its pure form is less common in everyday applications compared to its acid form. Hydrochloric Acid is more commonly encountered in daily life, from household cleaners to its role in the human stomach.

Comparison Chart


Gas at room temperature
Aqueous solution (liquid)


Diatomic molecule (HCl)
Solution of hydrogen chloride in water


Chemical synthesis, industrial processes
Cleaning, pH control, digestion aid

Reactivity with Water

Reacts with moisture to form hydrochloric acid
Is the result of hydrogen chloride in water

Common Encounters in Daily Life

Less common in pure form
Frequently used in various forms and applications

Compare with Definitions

Hydrogen Chloride

A diatomic molecule consisting of hydrogen and chlorine.
Hydrogen chloride forms when hydrogen reacts with chlorine.

Hydrochloric Acid

Found in gastric juice in the stomach.
Hydrochloric acid aids in digestion by breaking down food.

Hydrogen Chloride

Used in industrial and chemical processes.
Hydrogen chloride is integral in producing various chemicals.

Hydrochloric Acid

Used in pH control and processing.
Hydrochloric acid is important in regulating the pH of solutions.

Hydrogen Chloride

A gas that forms white fumes in moist air.
The presence of hydrogen chloride can be detected by its fumes.

Hydrochloric Acid

An aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride.
Hydrochloric acid forms when hydrogen chloride dissolves in water.

Hydrogen Chloride

A colorless and pungent gas.
Hydrogen chloride is used in the synthesis of chlorinated compounds.

Hydrochloric Acid

Employed in various industrial applications.
Hydrochloric acid is used in the production of pharmaceuticals.

Hydrogen Chloride

A toxic and corrosive gas at room temperature.
Hydrogen chloride requires careful handling due to its toxicity.

Hydrochloric Acid

A strong, corrosive acid.
Hydrochloric acid is used to clean metals.

Common Curiosities

What happens when hydrogen chloride is dissolved in water?

It forms hydrochloric acid.

What is the primary use of hydrogen chloride?

It's primarily used in chemical synthesis and industrial processes.

Can hydrochloric acid be used in food processing?

Yes, it's used in various food processing applications.

Is hydrogen chloride a solid, liquid, or gas?

Hydrogen chloride is a gas at room temperature.

Is hydrogen chloride safe to handle?

It is toxic and corrosive, requiring careful handling.

Is hydrochloric acid found in the human body?

Yes, it's a component of gastric juice in the stomach.

Can hydrogen chloride exist naturally?

Yes, it can be produced in volcanic gases and some industrial emissions.

How is hydrochloric acid stored?

It must be stored in corrosion-resistant containers.

What industries commonly use hydrogen chloride?

It's used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and metallurgical industries.

What are the uses of hydrochloric acid?

It's used in cleaning, pH control, and digestion.

Can hydrochloric acid be diluted?

Yes, it's often diluted for various applications.

Is hydrochloric acid environmentally hazardous?

It can be, especially if released in large quantities.

What happens if hydrogen chloride is released in the air?

It can form acidic mist, posing health and environmental risks.

What are the safety measures for handling hydrochloric acid?

Use protective gear and ensure proper ventilation.

Can hydrochloric acid be neutralized?

Yes, it can be neutralized with a base, like sodium hydroxide.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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