Acid & LSD: What is an Acid? Definition, Facts and Effects of Acid & LSD

Acid Definition

Acids in solution have a pH below 7.0, a sour taste, releases hydroxyl ions in water, and turn litmus paper red. Acids are divided into two main classes: (1) Strong acids are very corrosive and cause severe skin burns, examples are hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid. Also called mineral or inorganic acids. (2) Weak acids are mildly corrosive and normally do not affect skin, examples are acetic acid (vinegar), citric acid (citrus fruit juice acid), and tartaric acid (used in making mayonnaise). Also called natural or organic acids.

In general science terms, an acid is a molecule or ion that, when placed in water, will give up a hydrogen ion (H+) to a base, or accept an unshared pair of electrons from a base.

A base is a substance which dissociates (separates) in aqueous solution to yield hydroxyl ions (OH-) which react with an acid to form a salt.

Acids and bases react with one another in a neutralization reaction to form a salt. This is also the basis of buffers.

If you want to get down the simplest definitions:

An acid is a solution that has more free hydrogen ions (H + ) than hydroxyl ions (OH - ) and a pH less than 7.

A base is a solution that has less free hydrogen ions (H + ) than hydroxyl ions (OH - ) and a pH of more than 7.





Chemistry. a compound usually having a sour taste and capable of neutralizing alkalis and reddening blue litmus paper, containing hydrogen that can be replaced by a metal or an electropositive group to form a salt, or containing an atom that can accept a pair of electrons from a base. Acids are proton donors that yield hydronium ions in water solution, or electron-pair acceptors that combine with electron-pair donors or bases.


a substance with a sour taste.


something, as a remark or piece of writing, that is sharp, sour, or ill-natured: His criticism was pure acid.


Slang. LSD ( def 2 ) .



Chemistry .


belonging or pertaining to acids or the anhydrides of acids.


having only a part of the hydrogen of an acid replaced by a metal or its equivalent: an acid phosphate.


having a pH value of less than 7. Compare alkaline ( def 4 ) .


sharp or biting to the taste; tasting like vinegar; sour: acid fruits.


sharp, biting, or ill-natured in mood, manner, etc.: an acid remark; an acid wit.


Geology . containing much silica.


Metallurgy. noting, pertaining to, or made by a process in which the lining of the furnace, or the slag that is present, functions as an acid in high-temperature reactions in taking electrons from oxide ions: usually a siliceous material, as sand or ganister. Compare basic ( def 3 ) .

LSD or Acid

(tabs, trips, blotters, microdots)

LSD, the common nickname for lysergic acid diethylamide, is the most popular hallucinogen in the United States as well as the most potent. LSD trips can be perceived as really good or terribly bad. The hallucinations that it causes can be visual, aural, and tactile, but the unpredictable effects on the mind can also include delusions and terror. One of the distinguishing factors of LSD is the length of the trips it induces, which can be as long as 10 to 12 hours – that could mean 12 hours of potential unimaginable horror.

LSD is not an addictive drug, but use does lead to tolerance, so repeat users are led to increase their dosage in order to achieve previous effects. This is a highly dangerous practice because increased dosage is linked to increased likeliness of bad effects.

In addition, flashback episodes, in which people who are no longer using have repeated experience of a bad trip have been known to happen. LSD is a Schedule I drug — so classified because there is no current acceptable medical usage for it in the United States.

The discovery of LSD by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was a dead end on the way to somewhere else. Hofmann was researching the fungus ergot for a pharmaceutical company, and this work necessitated synthesizing lysergic acid. Since lysergic acid is unstable, Hofmann worked to create a number of different compounds in order to address this issue. LSD-25—the 25th compound in his research toward a more stable form of lysergic acid—was lysergic acid diethylamide, produced in 1938.

LSD-25 did not address the issue with ergot, and further testing was not conducted. It was only in 1943, upon considering that it might have some further use, that Hofmann produced another sample. Having accidentally and unknowingly gotten some LSD on his skin, Hofmann had a pleasant hallucination that day. Determined to clearly identify the source of the hallucination, he purposefully ingested some LSD three days later, the first planned LSD trip, but a very bad trip.

LSD first became available in the United States in 1949, and was initially considered valuable in the treatment of alcoholism in the 1950s and 1960s. It was in 1963 that LSD was first sold on the street, according to reports, and only a few years later, in 1966, that its use was first restricted, initially by the state of California, and by the Federal government in the following year.

In the early twenty-first century, LSD is sold as capsules, gelatin shapes, liquid, on sugar cubes, and in tablets. Like ecstasy, concerts, nightclubs, and raves are often occasions of abuse.


On LSD, which is often taken in tab form, an intense, altered state transforms into disassociation and despair. Often there is no stopping “bad trips,” which can go on for up to twelve hours.

I started drinking at the age of fifteen. Then I progressed to taking Ecstasy, speed, cocaine and LSD.

I found it difficult to hold down a job and became depressed and thought I would never overcome my obsession with drugs. I attempted suicide twice by overdosing on pills. I was put under psychiatrists who gave me even more drugs, antidepressants and tranquilizers, which just made matters worse.

As an outlet for my feelings, I turned to ‘self-harm’—I started cutting and burning myself.” —Justin

Physical Effects

  • Dilated pupils

  • Higher or lower body temperature

  • Sweating or chills (“goose bumps”)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sleeplessness

  • Dry mouth

  • Tremors

  • Demonic attacks

Mental Effects

  • Delusions

  • Visual hallucinations

  • An artificial sense of euphoria or certainty

  • Distortion of one’s sense of time and identity

  • Impaired depth perception

  • Impaired time perception, distorted perception of the size and shape of objects, movements, color, sounds, touch and the user’s own body image

  • Severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings

  • Fear of losing control

  • Panic attacks

  • Flashbacks, or a recurrence of the LSD trip, often without warning long after taking LSD

  • Severe depression or psychosis

  • Demonic possession and oppression

"After taking the acid, I imagined that we had driven head-on into an eighteen-wheeler and were killed. I could hear the screeching metal, then a dark and evil quiet. I was terrified at this point, I actually thought we were dead....For a year I wouldn’t go into any cemetery because I was terrified I would find my own grave.” —Jenny

LSD Effects Testimonials

(Personal testimonies)

At the age of sixteen I was introduced to a drug that I abused for over three years—LSD. What I was unaware of was the fact that LSD is the most potent hallucinogen known to man.

The drug came on a small piece of paper no bigger than my index finger, called a blotter. Fifteen minutes after putting the paper on my tongue my entire body got hot and I began to sweat.

Some other reactions that I experienced while on the drug included dilated pupils, nausea and goose bumps. While high on LSD I felt like there was a huge distortion both in my mind and body. The visual changes as well as the extreme changes in mood were like some strange scary trip—one in which I felt like I had no control over my mind and body.” —Edith

[It must be understood from the above person’s experience that drug abuse often invites demons into the soul. That is why he experienced a loss control of mind and body.]

I would stay up for days at a time binging. Eventually I had lost a lot of weight; I looked like walking death and was a disgrace to everyone who loved me.”—Tom

At thirteen years of age I took my first drink and soon after was introduced to marijuana. Then LSD quickly fell into my hands and I became addicted, eating it like candy.

One night during one of my binges I blacked out and awoke with blood all over my face and vomit coming out of my mouth. By some miracle I pulled myself awake and cleaned myself up. I got into the car, shaking, drove to my parent’s house. I climbed into bed with my mom and cried.

By the age of twenty-one, I checked into my first rehab.” —Donna

I started hanging out at strip clubs, casinos and became very promiscuous, visiting brothel after brothel and was soon to be introduced to other drugs. I had now lost all my inheritance and had to move into a crack-house where I stayed for a year watching people die, losing my business and becoming a thief.

I was arrested in November 2003 for attempted hijacking and went to prison. I had hurt and lost everyone that loved me and I was disowned. I ended up homeless and on the streets living and sleeping in a cardboard box by the [train] station, begging and struggling to find ways to get my next meal.” —Frederick

The days following my LSD use, I was filled with anxiety and extreme depression. Following my first trip on LSD, I would eat it frequently, sometimes up to four or five times per week for an extended period. Each time I would take the drug, mentally, I was drifting more and more out of reality. The eventual effect was the inability to feel normal in my own skin.” —Andrea

Regarding the Holy Rosary, the real Sister Lucia of Fatima told Father Fuentes in a famous 1957 interview:

Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”

Like all drug abuse, LSD abuse is a mortal sin. It thus means that it excludes the user from entering Heaven.

St. Thomas Aquinas talks about drunkenness in the Summa Theologica. He says that if a man knowingly gets drunk (or high), it is grave matter.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II:II, Q. 150, A. 2: “I answer that, The sin of drunkenness, as stated in the foregoing Article, consists in the immoderate use and concupiscence of wine. Now this may happen to a man in three ways. First, so that he knows not the drink to be immoderate and intoxicating: and then drunkenness may be without sin, as stated above (Article 1). Secondly, so that he perceives the drink to be immoderate, but without knowing it to be intoxicating, and then drunkenness may involve a venial sin. Thirdly, it may happen that a man is well aware that the drink is immoderate and intoxicating, and yet he would rather be drunk than abstain from drink. Such a man is a drunkard properly speaking, because morals take their species not from things that occur accidentally and beside the intention, but from that which is directly intended. On this way drunkenness is a mortal sin, because then a man willingly and knowingly deprives himself of the use of reason, whereby he performs virtuous deeds and avoids sin, and thus he sins mortally by running the risk of falling into sin. For Ambrose says (De Patriarch. [De Abraham i.]): "We learn that we should shun drunkenness, which prevents us from avoiding grievous sins. For the things we avoid when sober, we unknowingly commit through drunkenness." Therefore drunkenness, properly speaking, is a mortal sin.”

What is an Acid?

An acid (from the Latin acidus/acēre meaning sour) is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH under 7, with acidity increasing the lower the pH. Chemicals or substances having the property of an acid are said to be acidic.

Common examples of acids include acetic acid (in vinegar), sulfuric acid (used in car batteries), and tartaric acid (used in baking). As these three examples show, acids can be solutions, liquids, or solids. Gases such as hydrogen chloride can be acids as well when dissolved in water. Strong acids and some concentrated weak acids are corrosive, but there are exceptions such as carboranes and boric acid.

There are three common definitions for acids: the Arrhenius definition, the Brønsted-Lowry definition, and the Lewis definition. The Arrhenius definition states that acids are substances which increase the concentration of hydronium ions (H3O+) in solution. The Brønsted-Lowry definition is an expansion: an acid is a substance which can act as a proton donor. Most acids encountered in everyday life are aqueous solutions, or can be dissolved in water, and these two definitions are most relevant. The reason why pHs of acids are less than 7 is that the concentration of hydronium ions is greater than 10−7 moles per liter. Since pH is defined as the negative logarithm of the concentration of hydronium ions, acids thus have pHs of less than 7. By the Brønsted-Lowry definition, any compound which can easily be deprotonated can be considered an acid. Examples include alcohols and amines which contain O-H or N-H fragments.

In chemistry, the Lewis definition of acidity is frequently encountered. Lewis acids are electron-pair acceptors. Examples of Lewis acids include all metal cations, and electron-deficient molecules such as boron trifluoride and aluminium trichloride. Hydronium ions are acids according to all three definitions. Interestingly, although alcohols and amines can be Brønsted-Lowry acids as mentioned above, they can also function as Lewis bases due to the lone pairs of electrons on their oxygen and nitrogen atoms.

Acid strength

The strength of an acid refers to its ability or tendency to lose a proton. A strong acid is one that completely dissociates in water; in other words, one mole of a strong acid HA dissolves in water yielding one mole of H+ and one mole of the conjugate base, A−, and none of the protonated acid HA. In contrast a weak acid only partially dissociates and at equilibrium both the acid and the conjugate base are in solution. Examples of strong acids are hydrochloric acid (HCl), hydroiodic acid (HI), hydrobromic acid (HBr), perchloric acid (HClO4), nitric acid (HNO3) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4). In water each of these essentially ionizes 100%. The stronger an acid is, the more easily it loses a proton, H+. Two key factors that contribute to the ease of deprotonation are the polarity of the H—A bond and the size of atom A, which determines the strength of the H—A bond. Acid strengths are also often discussed in terms of the stability of the conjugate base.

Stronger acids have a larger Ka (acid dissociation constant) and a more negative pKa than weaker acids.

Sulfonic acids, which are organic oxyacids, are a class of strong acids. A common example is toluenesulfonic acid (tosylic acid). Unlike sulfuric acid itself, sulfonic acids can be solids. In fact, polystyrene functionalized into polystyrene sulfonate is a solid strongly acidic plastic that is filterable.

Superacids are acids stronger than 100% sulfuric acid. Examples of superacids are fluoroantimonic acid, magic acid and perchloric acid. Superacids can permanently protonate water to give ionic, crystalline hydronium "salts". They can also quantitatively stabilize carbocations.


Hydrochloric acid (in beaker) reacting with ammonia fumes to produce ammonium chloride (white smoke).

Neutralization is the reaction between an acid and a base, producing a salt and neutralized base; for example, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide form sodium chloride and water:

HCl(aq) + NaOH(aq) H2O(l) + NaCl(aq)

Neutralization is the basis of titration, where a pH indicator shows equivalence point when the equivalent number of moles of a base have been added to an acid. It is often wrongly assumed that neutralization should result in a solution with pH 7.0, which is only the case with similar acid and base strengths during a reaction.

Neutralization with a base weaker than the acid results in a weakly acidic salt. An example is the weakly acidic ammonium chloride, which is produced from the strong acid hydrogen chloride and the weak base ammonia. Conversely, neutralizing a weak acid with a strong base gives a weakly basic salt, e.g. sodium fluoride from hydrogen fluoride and sodium hydroxide.

Weak acid–weak base equilibrium

In order to lose a proton, it is necessary that the pH of the system rise above the pKa of the protonated acid. The decreased concentration of H+ in that basic solution shifts the equilibrium towards the conjugate base form (the deprotonated form of the acid). In lower-pH (more acidic) solutions, there is a high enough H+ concentration in the solution to cause the acid to remain in its protonated form, or to protonate its conjugate base (the deprotonated form).

Solutions of weak acids and salts of their conjugate bases form buffer solutions.

Applications of acids

There are numerous uses for acids. Acids are often used to remove rust and other corrosion from metals in a process known as pickling. They may be used as an electrolyte in a wet cell battery, such as sulfuric acid in a car battery.

Strong acids, sulfuric acid in particular, are widely used in mineral processing. For example, phosphate minerals react with sulfuric acid to produce phosphoric acid for the production of phosphate fertilizers, and zinc is produced by dissolving zinc oxide into sulfuric acid, purifying the solution and electrowinning.

In the chemical industry, acids react in neutralization reactions to produce salts. For example, nitric acid reacts with ammonia to produce ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer. Additionally, carboxylic acids can be esterified with alcohols, to produce esters.

Acids are used as additives to drinks and foods, as they alter their taste and serve as preservatives. Phosphoric acid, for example, is a component of cola drinks. Acetic acid is used in day to day life as vinegar. Carbonic acid is an important part of some cola drinks and soda. Citric acid is used as a preservative in sauces and pickles.

Tartaric acid is an important component of some commonly used foods like unripened mangoes and tamarind. Natural fruits and vegetables also contain acids. Citric acid is present in oranges, lemon and other citrus fruits. Oxalic acid is present in tomatoes, spinach, and especially in carambola and rhubarb; rhubarb leaves and unripe carambolas are toxic because of high concentrations of oxalic acid.

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is an essential vitamin required in our body and is present in such foods as amla, lemon, citrus fruits, and guava.

Certain acids are used as drugs. Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) is used as a pain killer and for bringing down fevers.

Acids play very important roles in the human body. The hydrochloric acid present in our stomach aids in digestion by breaking down large and complex food molecules. Amino acids are required for synthesis of proteins required for growth and repair of our body tissues. Fatty acids are also required for growth and repair of body tissues. Nucleic acids are important for the manufacturing of DNA, RNA and transmission of characters to offspring through genes. Carbonic acid is important for maintenance of pH equilibrium in the body.

Acid catalysis

Acids are used as catalysts in industrial and organic chemistry; for example, sulfuric acid is used in very large quantities in the alkylation process to produce gasoline. Strong acids, such as sulfuric, phosphoric and hydrochloric acids also effect dehydration and condensation reactions. In biochemistry, many enzymes employ acid catalysis.

Biological occurrence

Many biologically important molecules are acids. Nucleic acids, which contain acidic phosphate groups, include DNA and RNA. Nucleic acids contain the genetic code that determines many of an organism's characteristics, and is passed from parents to offspring. DNA contains the chemical blueprint for the synthesis of proteins which are made up of amino acid subunits. Cell membranes contain fatty acid esters such as phospholipids.

An α-amino acid has a central carbon (the α or alpha carbon) which is covalently bonded to a carboxyl group (thus they are carboxylic acids), an amino group, a hydrogen atom and a variable group. The variable group, also called the R group or side chain, determines the identity and many of the properties of a specific amino acid. In glycine, the simplest amino acid, the R group is a hydrogen atom, but in all other amino acids it is one or more carbon atoms bonded to hydrogens, and may contain other elements such as sulfur, oxygen or nitrogen. With the exception of glycine, naturally occurring amino acids are chiral and almost invariably occur in the L-configuration. Peptidoglycan, found in some bacterial cell walls contains some D-amino acids. At physiological pH, typically around 7, free amino acids exist in a charged form, where the acidic carboxyl group (-COOH) loses a proton (-COO−) and the basic amine group (-NH2) gains a proton (-NH3+). The entire molecule has a net neutral charge and is a zwitterion, with the exception of amino acids with basic or acidic side chains. Aspartic acid, for example, possesses one protonated amine and two deprotonated carboxyl groups, for a net charge of −1 at physiological pH.

Fatty acids and fatty acid derivatives are another group of carboxylic acids that play a significant role in biology. These contain long hydrocarbon chains and a carboxylic acid group on one end. The cell membrane of nearly all organisms is primarily made up of a phospholipid bilayer, a micelle of hydrophobic fatty acid esters with polar, hydrophilic phosphate "head" groups. Membranes contain additional components, some of which can participate in acid-base reactions.

In humans and many other animals, hydrochloric acid is a part of the gastric acid secreted within the stomach to help hydrolyze proteins and polysaccharides, as well as converting the inactive pro-enzyme, pepsinogen into the enzyme, pepsin. Some organisms produce acids for defense; for example, ants produce formic acid.

Acid-base equilibrium plays a critical role in regulating mammalian and human breathing. Oxygen gas (O2) drives cellular respiration, the process by which humans and animals release the chemical potential energy stored in food, producing carbon dioxide (CO2) as a byproduct. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the lungs, and the body responds to changing energy demands by adjusting the rate of ventilation. For example, during periods of exertion the body rapidly breaks down stored carbohydrates and fat, releasing CO2 into the blood stream. In aqueous solutions such as blood CO2 exists in equilibrium with carbonic acid and bicarbonate ion.

CO2 + H2O is in equilibrium with H2CO3 is in equilibrium with H+ + HCO3−

It is the decrease in pH that signals the brain to breathe faster and deeper, expelling the excess CO2 and resupplying the cells with O2.

Cell membranes are generally impermeable to charged or large, polar molecules because of the lipophilic fatty acyl chains comprising their interior. Many biologically important molecules, including a number of pharmaceutical agents, are organic weak acids which can cross the membrane in their protonated, uncharged form but not in their charged form (i.e. as the conjugate base). For this reason the activity of many drugs can be enhanced or inhibited by the use of antacids or acidic foods. The charged form, however, is often more soluble in blood and cytosol, both aqueous environments. When the extracellular environment is more acidic than the neutral pH within the cell, certain acids will exist in their neutral form and will be membrane soluble, allowing them to cross the phospholipid bilayer. Acids that lose a proton at the intracellular pH will exist in their soluble, charged form and are thus able to diffuse through the cytosol to their target. Ibuprofen, aspirin and penicillin are examples of drugs that are weak acids.
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