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Phosphorus vs. Phosphoric Acid — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 26, 2023
Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol "P", while Phosphoric Acid is an acid derived from phosphorus in the form of H₃PO₄.
Phosphorus vs. Phosphoric Acid — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Phosphorus and Phosphoric Acid

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Key Differences

Phosphorus is a fundamental element in the periodic table with atomic number 15. It is crucial for life and is found in DNA, ATP, and many other biological molecules. Phosphoric Acid, on the other hand, is a chemical compound that has phosphorus in its molecule, specifically in its triply protonated form.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
Phosphorus can exist in several allotropic forms, with white and red phosphorus being the most common. Phosphoric Acid, in contrast, is a weak acid that is often used in fertilizers, food additives, and cleaning agents.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
Phosphorus, when exposed to air, can react and form compounds such as phosphorus pentoxide. When phosphorus pentoxide is dissolved in water, it forms Phosphoric Acid, showcasing a direct chemical relationship between the two.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
Phosphorus is often mined from rocks and then processed to be used in a variety of industrial applications. Phosphoric Acid, once produced, can be concentrated and used in numerous ways, including as a rust inhibitor or to acidify foods and beverages.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
While phosphorus is an essential element for life, its compounds are used in a wide range of products from matches to LED lights. Phosphoric Acid's role in our lives might be less directly evident, but it's still impactful, such as its use in sodas and detergents.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Chemical element
Chemical compound
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Chemical Symbol/Form

P
H₃PO₄
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Nov 26, 2023

Common Uses

Matches, fertilizers, LED lights
Food additive, rust inhibitor, detergents
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Nov 26, 2023

Biological Role

DNA, ATP, bones
Not directly involved in biology
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Nov 26, 2023

Reaction with Water

Forms phosphine gas
Dissociates into ions
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Nov 26, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Phosphorus

An element used in fertilizers to promote plant growth.
The P in NPK fertilizers stands for phosphorus.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

An acid used in rust removal products.
To prepare metal for painting, one might treat it with phosphoric acid.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Phosphorus

A nonmetallic chemical element found in nature.
Phosphorus is crucial for bone health.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

An acid that can act as a buffering agent in various solutions.
In the lab, phosphoric acid can help maintain a solution's pH.
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Oct 07, 2023

Phosphorus

A constituent of DNA and RNA.
Without phosphorus, DNA wouldn't have its backbone.
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Oct 07, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A substance used to acidify foods and beverages.
Some sodas contain phosphoric acid to balance sweetness.
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Oct 07, 2023

Phosphorus

The element with the chemical symbol "P".
Phosphorus has an atomic number of 15.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A weak acid derived from phosphorus with the formula H₃PO₄.
Phosphoric Acid is used in cola to give it a tangy flavor.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Phosphorus

Symbol P A highly reactive, poisonous, nonmetallic element occurring naturally in phosphates, especially apatite, and existing in three allotropic forms, white (or sometimes yellow), red, and black (or violet). An essential element for biological cells, it is used in safety matches, pyrotechnics, incendiary shells, and fertilizers and to protect metal surfaces from corrosion. Atomic number 15; atomic weight 30.9738; melting point (white) 44.15°C; boiling point 280.5°C; specific gravity (white) 1.82, (red) 2.16, (black) 2.25 to 2.69; valence 3, 4, 5. See Periodic Table.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphoric Acid

A common ingredient in fertilizer production.
Phosphoric acid provides essential phosphates for plant growth.
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Oct 07, 2023

Phosphorus

A phosphorescent substance.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

Phosphorus(Astronomy) See Lucifer.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

(chemistry) a chemical element (symbol P) with an atomic number of 15, that exists in several allotropic forms.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

(obsolete) any substance exhibiting phosphorescence; a phosphor
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

The morning star; Phosphor.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

A poisonous nonmetallic element of the nitrogen group, obtained as a white, or yellowish, translucent waxy substance, having a characteristic disagreeable smell; this waxy allotropic form is also called yellow phosphorus, to distinguish it from another allotropic form, red phosphorus. It is very active chemically, must be preserved under water, and unites with oxygen even at ordinary temperatures, giving a faint glow, - whence its name. It always occurs combined, usually in phosphates, as in the mineral apatite, in bones, etc. It is used in the composition on the tips of friction matches, and for many other purposes. The molecule contains four atoms. Symbol P. Atomic weight 31.0.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

Hence, any substance which shines in the dark like phosphorus, as certain phosphorescent bodies.
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

A multivalent nonmetallic element of the nitrogen family that occurs commonly in inorganic phosphate rocks and as organic phosphates in all living cells; is highly reactive and occurs in several allotropic forms
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

A planet (usually Venus) seen just before sunrise in the eastern sky
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Oct 06, 2023

Phosphorus

A substance that can glow in the dark (phosphorescence).
The glow from old-fashioned clock hands is due to phosphorus.
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Oct 07, 2023

Common Curiosities

Can phosphorus be found in our body?

Yes, phosphorus is an essential element found in DNA, ATP, and bones.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol "P" and atomic number 15.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

What are common uses of phosphoric acid?

Phosphoric acid is used in fertilizers, food additives, rust inhibitors, and cleaning agents.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

How is phosphoric acid related to phosphorus?

Phosphoric Acid is derived from phosphorus and has the formula H₃PO₄.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Is phosphorus dangerous?

In certain forms and amounts, phosphorus can be toxic, and white phosphorus can ignite spontaneously in air.
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Nov 26, 2023

Is phosphoric acid a strong acid?

No, phosphoric acid is considered a weak acid.
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Nov 26, 2023

What foods are high in phosphorus?

Foods like dairy products, meat, and nuts are naturally rich in phosphorus.
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Nov 26, 2023

Are there any health concerns with consuming phosphoric acid?

Consuming large amounts of phosphoric acid may affect bone health and tooth enamel.
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Nov 26, 2023

Why is phosphoric acid added to sodas?

Phosphoric acid is added to sodas for flavor and to act as a preservative.
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Nov 26, 2023

What does phosphoric acid taste like?

Phosphoric acid has a sour taste, which is why it's used in some beverages.
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Nov 26, 2023

Can phosphorus glow in the dark?

Yes, phosphorus exhibits phosphorescence, a type of glow in the dark.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Are there different forms of phosphorus?

Yes, phosphorus has several allotropes, with white and red phosphorus being the most common.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

How does phosphoric acid react with bases?

Phosphoric acid reacts with bases to form salts, most commonly phosphates.
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Nov 26, 2023

How is phosphorus obtained?

Phosphorus is often mined from phosphate rocks and then processed for various uses.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can phosphoric acid be used in cleaning?

Yes, phosphoric acid is often used in cleaning agents, especially to remove rust.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. 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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