Any substance that in water solution tastes sour, changes the colour of acid-base indicators (e.g., litmus), reacts with some metals (e.g., iron) to yield hydrogen gas, reacts with bases to form salts, and promotes certain chemical reactions (e.g., acid catalysis). Acids contain one or more hydrogen atoms that, in solution, dissociate as positively charged hydrogen ions. Inorganic, or mineral, acids include sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, and phosphoric acid. Organic acids include carboxylic acids, phenols, and sulfonic acids. Broader definitions of acids cover situations in which water is not present. See also acid-base theory.

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