Chemistry – Properties of Acids and Bases

A Brief Overview of the Unique Properties of Acids and Bases.

Acid – A substance that produces hydrogen/hydronium ions in aqueous solution.

Base - A substance that produces hydroxide ions in aqueous solution.

Alkali - A base that is soluble in water.

When an acid and a base are reacted together they begin to neutralize. The produced hydrogen/hydronium and hydroxide ions react to form water.

Disassociation - When a compound splits into parts. Specifically when an ionic compound splits into ions.

Strong Acid/Base - Substances that completely disassociate in aqueous solution.

Weak Acid/Base - Substances that do not completely disassociate in aqueous solution.

Although there are some general trends (bases with alkali metals are strong and acids with halogens are strong) the best way to differentiate strong and weak substances is through memorization.

1 mole of a strong acid would have a higher concentration of hydrogen ions when in solution because it completely disassociates into ions whereas 1 mole of any weak acid would have a smaller concentration of ions. The same applies to bases.

One way of determining the strength of an acid or base is by testing conductivity. Because more ions are present in strong acids and bases, a much stronger electrical current can be generated through these substances than through weak acids or bases.

Another way of determining stength of an acid or base is to measure the pH using a pH meter.  The pH of a strong acid will be lower than the pH of a weak acid. The pH of a strong base will have a higher pH than that of a weak base.

For an overview of the theories of acids and bases:

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