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Acids, Bases, and Salts: Part 1

Properties of Acids and Bases

Physical Properties
acidic solutions taste sour; basic solutions are slippery and taste
acid and base solutions have the ability to conduct electricity (they
are electrolytes) and the dissolve into ions in solutions
pure water is a non-conductor of electricity; only by adding an
acid or base can water conduct electricity (the acid or base produces ions)
Chemical Properties
acids and bases react with litmus paper
Aqueous solutions of acids cause blue litmus paper
to turn red, while solutions of bases cause the red litmus paper to turn blue
acids react with some metals and metal carbonates
Mg and Zn react with aqueous solutions of acids to
produce hydrogen gas
Metal carbonates and hydrogen carbonates react
with aqueous solutions of acids to produce carbon dioxide gas

Hydronium and Hydroxide Ions

All water solutions contain hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-)
The relative amounts of the two ions determine whether an aqueous solution is
acidic, basic, or neutral.
An acidic solution contains more hydrogen ions, while a basic
solution contains more hydroxide ions
Pure water produces equal amounts of hydrogen and hydroxide ions in a process
called self-ionization, in which water molecules react to form a hydronium ion (H3O+)
and hydroxide ion (OH-)
The hydronium ion is a hydrogen ion which has a water molecule attached to it by
a covalent bond
The symbols H+ and H3O+ can be used interchangeably

The Arrhenius Model

Acids are substances which produce hydrogen ions in solution; Bases are
substance which produce hydroxide ions in solution
does not account for all substances such as ammonia and sodium carbonate,
which produces hydroxide ions in solution.
only accounts for completely ionized (so not at equilibrium) acids or bases

The Brnsted-Lowry Model

a more inclusive model of acids and bases that accounts for equilibrium situations
focuses only on the hydrogen ion (H+)
An acid is a hydrogen-ion donor. A base is a hydrogen-ion acceptor
the acid and base that react in the reverse reaction are called conjugate acid and
conjugate base
A conjugate acid is the species produced when a base accepts a
hydrogen ion (H+). e.g. H20->H3O+
A conjugate base is the species that results when an acid donates a
hydrogen ion. e.g. HX->X-
Substances that can act as either a base or an acid (eg. water) are
said to be amphoteric or amphiprotic
involves conjugate acid-base pairs (two substances related to each other by a
single hydrogen ion)

Monoprotic and Polyprotic Acids

An acid that can donate only one hydrogen ion (H+) is called a monoprotic acid.
The bond type between hydrogen and some other ion determines if it is ionizable.
Polar bonds (formed between elements with highly different
electronegativities) are ionizable whereas non polar bonds are not
e.g. in the molecule acetic acid, only one hydrogen is ionizable
because it is bonded to oxygen (high electronegativity difference). The other three
hydrogens are not ionizable because they are bonded to carbon (little
electronegativity difference).
Acids that contain two ionizable hydrogen ions are called diprotic - contain three
ionizable acids are called triprotic.
The term polyprotic can describe any acid that has more than one ionizable
hydrogen atom
All polyprotic acids ionize in steps and the anions resulting from the ionization are
said to be amphoteric or amphiprotic
An acid anhydride is an oxide that can combine with water to form an acid.
Other oxides combine with water to form bases.
In general, oxides of metallic elements form bases and oxides of nonmetals form

Strengths of Acids
In solution, strong acids and bases ionize completely, but weak acids and bases
ionize only partially (in other words weak acids result in equilibrium)
Acidic and basic solutions conduct electricity
Strong acids and bases conduct electricity better than weak acids because they
release greater concentrations of ions (ions carry electric charge through solution)
In the case of all strong acids, water is a stronger base than the conjugate base
In general, if the conjugate acid/base is stronger than the original acid/base, the
equilibrium lies far on the left side of the equation. If the conjugate acid/base is weaker
than the original acid/base, the opposite is true.
The terms strong and weak acid ONLY refer to ionization of an acid or base,
whereas the terms dilute and concentrated refer to the molarity of a solution
If a strong acid HX reacts with water, its conjugate base X- must be weak
(otherwise it would cause the reverse reaction to take place). Therefore, the conjugate
acid H3O+ must be strong.
The higher the weak acid is on the left side of the table, the stronger it is, and its
conjugate base is weaker.

Acid Ionization Constants

Brnsted-Lowry model does not provide a quantitative way to express the
strength of an acid or compare the strengths of various acids
The equilibrium constant expression provides the quantitative measure of acid
For the Keq expression, the [H2O] is constant, so its combined with Keq to make
For weak acids, the numerator of the expression tends to be small (vice versa for
strong acids)
Polyprotic acids are not necessarily strong for any of their ionizations.
Each ionization of a polyprotic acid has a Ka value and the value decreases for
each successive ionization.

Strengths of Bases
Everything that applies to acids applies to bases, except that OH- ions, rather than
H+ ions, are involved.
A base that dissociates entirely into metal ions and hydroxide ions is known as a
strong base.
Metallic hydroxides such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), are strong bases. Some
metallic hydroxides such as calcium hydroxide have low solubility (Ksp small), but are
still considered strong bases because all of the compound that dissolves is completely
dissociated (note the difference between strong/weak and soluble/insoluble).
A weak base ionizes only partially in dilute aqueous solution (for the calcium
hydroxide the solution is actually saturated so there is a difference)
OH- is the strongest base in solution when a strong base has been ionized.
NH3 is a weak base because when it ionizes it introduces OH- and NH4+
The lower the weak base is on the right side of the table, the stronger it is and the
weaker its conjugate acid is.

Base Ionization Constant

Weak bases also form equilibrium mixtures of molecules and ions in aqueous
The equilibrium constant provides a measure of the extent of the bases
The base ionization constant Kb is the value of the equilibrium constant for the
ionization of a base. The smaller the value of Kb, the weaker the base.

Ion Product Constant for Water

Pure water contains equal concentrations of H+ and OH- ions produced by self
Water self ionization is in equilibrium.
The expression for Kw=[H3O+][OH-]=[H+][OH-] is a special equilibrium that
applies only to water. The value of Kw is called the ion product constant for water
The product of [H+] and [OH-] always equals 1.0*10^-14 at 25 degrees celsius.
OH Value: Acidic<1.0*10^-7<Basic
Le Chatelier's Principle tells us that if [H+] increases, [OH-] decreases and vice

The Effect of Temperature on Kw

Kw changes with temperature because the ionization of water is endothermic.
According to Le Chatelier's Principle, an increase in temperature increases
[H3O+], [H+], and [OH-] by the same amount (1:1:1), increasing Kw. The converse is
also true.
To calculate the Kb of a weak base, we have to locate the base on the right
column of the table and divide Kw by Ka of its conjugate acid.

The Relative Strength of Acids and Bases

The side of the equilibrium which has the weaker acid will be favored
Keq=Ka reactant acid/Ka product acid

pH and pOH
at 25 degrees celsius, acidic solutions have pH values below 7 and basic solutions
have pH values above 7
A solution with pH=0 is strongly acidic. A solution with pH=14 is strongly basic.
A solution with a pH of 3 is ten times more acidic than a solution with a pH of 4
At 25 degrees celsius, basic solutions have pOH values less than 7 and acidic
solutions have pOH values above 7.
pH + pOH = pKw, where pKw = -logKw
At 25 degrees celsius, pH + pOH = 14
Significant figures only apply to the numbers after the decimal point.