Phosphoric acid (also known as orthophosphoric acid or phosphoric(V) acid) is a weak acid with the chemical formula H3PO4. Orthophosphoric acid refers to phosphoric acid, which is the IUPAC name for this compound. The prefix ortho- is used to distinguish the acid from related phosphoric acids, called polyphosphoric acids. Orthophosphoric acid is a non-toxic acid, which, when pure, is a solid at room temperature and pressure. The conjugate base of phosphoric acid is the dihydrogen phosphate ion, H2PO4, which in turn has a conjugate base of hydrogen phosphate, HPO2−4, which has a conjugate base of phosphate, PO3−4. Phosphates are essential for life.
The most common source of phosphoric acid is an 85% aqueous solution; such solutions are colourless, odourless, and non-volatile. The 85% solution is a syrupy liquid, but still pourable. Although phosphoric acid does not meet the strict definition of a strong acid, the 85% solution is acidic enough to be corrosive.