Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a water-based (dilute) solution of hydrogen chloride gas found in our stomach. HCl’s function is as the main component Gastric acid, the fluid in the stomach that functions to digest food.
Apart from being produced naturally, HCl can also be produced synthetically and used for various industrial purposes.
Function of HCl in the stomach
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is one of the compounds that forms stomach acid. The function of HCl in the stomach is:
1. Helps the digestive system work well
The function of HCl liquid is to help break down, digest and absorb nutrients in food when it reaches the stomach. This liquid, also known as gastric acid, is also effective in eliminating bacteria and viruses that might enter the stomach through contaminated food. That way, the body can stay healthy and avoid infection.
2. Maintains stomach pH
HCl is the main component of stomach acid which functions to maintain the pH in the stomach to remain balanced at 1-2. This pH number is very acidic, but it will not damage the stomach because our body already has its own protective mechanism.
3. Break down proteins
One of the main functions of HCl in the stomach is to help break down proteins by producing H+ compounds. This compound can activate pepsinogen to become pepsin. The pepsin enzyme then breaks down the protein into peptides or amino acids in various sizes that can be absorbed by the small intestine.
If HCl production is inadequate, larger proteins can enter the small intestine, making them more difficult to digest.
This can lead to effectiveness the digestive process becomes disturbed and the body cannot absorb the protein it needs from the food eaten
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4. Prevent diseases in the digestive organs
Because of its acidic nature, hydrochloric acid liquid is able to eradicate disease-causing microorganisms that enter the stomach. Bacteria and viruses cannot survive in an environment that is too acidic.
- Several diseases that can be prevented due to the role of HCl include intestinal infections, bacterial peritonitis, and mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.
Benefits of HCl liquid outside the human body
Apart from being produced naturally in the body, hydrochloric acid can also be produced synthetically and used for various industrial purposes. The function of hydrochloric acid in industry is very broad, from processing steel to producing vinyl chloride which is used as a basic material for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.
HCl is also known as one of the chemicals used to produce polyurethane foam and calcium chloride, disinfectants, household cleaning, swimming pool sanitation, to the food manufacturing industry.
The following are the functions of HCl that can be useful for everyday life:
1. Steel production
The function of hydrochloric acid in the steel industry is as part of a preservative to remove rust and various impurities on carbon, alloy steel and stainless steel.
2. Household cleaners
The corrosive nature of HCl means it can be used in everyday life as a household cleaning agent. Some examples of cleaning products that utilize the function of hydrochloric acid are:
- Toilet cleaners
- Bathroom tile cleaner
- Porcelain cleaner.
3. Swimming pool sanitation
Another function of HCl is for swimming pool maintenance. Hydrochloric acid can maintain optimal water pH so that chlorine (chlorine) levels can be maintained.
Chlorine plays an important role in killing germs and purifying water so that swimming pools are kept clean and safe.
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4. Food production and processing
The food industry uses hydrochloric acid as an acidifier, flavor enhancer and preservative in sauces, vegetable juices and canned foods.
Some examples of foods that are prepared using this acid are corn syrup, biscuits, snacks, tomato sauce, and cereal.
5. Other uses
Hydrochloric acid is also used in the production of batteries, flashlights, fireworks, leather processing, building construction, acidifying oil wells, and making gelatin products.
Despite its function which provides many benefits, long-term exposure to hydrochloric acid can be dangerous, either by inhalation or direct contact with the skin. Some health impacts that can occur in humans, namely chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and photosensitization.