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Why does sulfuric acid displace more volatile acids from salts? My textbook says that sulfuric acid can displace more volatile acids from metal salts. How is $\ce{HCl}$, which is not even a reactant, 'displaced' from $\ce{NaCl}$, as there is no $\ce{HCl}$ to be displaced?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Todd Minehardt, bon, M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ, Geoff Hutchison, Jan Sep 29 '15 at 17:25

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How is $\ce{HCl}$, which is not even a reactant, 'displaced' from $\ce{NaCl}$, as there is no $\ce{HCl}$ to be displaced?

Well, there will be some $\ce{HCl}$ due to a well-known chemical reaction which is used both in the lab as well as in production to get the hydrogen chloride:

$$\ce{NaCl(s) + H2SO4(s) → NaHSO4(s) + HCl(g)}$$

The reaction proceeds at room temperature, but note, that the reagents should be dry. If you heat it up above 200 °C reaction proceeds even further:

$$\ce{NaCl(s) + NaHSO4(s) → HCl(g) + Na2SO4(s)}$$

Hydrochloric acid is then prepared by dissolving hydrogen chloride in water.

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