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In chemistry we differentiate between three electrolytes: acids, bases and salts.

Acids are chemical compounds which, when dissolved in water, produce a concentration of hydrogen ions, H+ (protons), greater than that of pure water. An acid is therefore a proton donor (proton = positively charged hydrogen ion H+).

Acids taste sour and turn litmus paper red. Litmus is the oldest and most often used indicator of whether a solution is an acid or a base. It is most often associated with pH measurement. Litmus is a pink dye derived from licheus, a plant organism composed of a fungus and an algae in symbiotic association.

The most common acids are:

Hydrochloric Acid

HCI

Component of Gastric Juices

Nitric Acid

HNO3

Used to Manufacture Dyes and Explosives

Acetic Acid

CH3COOH

Vinegar

Formic Acid

HCOOH

Used for Dyeing and Tanning

Sulfuric Acid

H2SO4

Batteries

Phosphoric Acid

H3PO4

Dental Cement, Fertilizer

Bases are chemical compounds which, when dissolved in water, produce an excess of hydroxyl ions, OH- or accept protons – a base accepts protons. Bases taste bitter and turn litmus blue. A base feels slimy. The most common bases are:

Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda)

NaOH

Drain and Oven Cleaner

Calcium Hydroxide

Ca(OH)2

Slated Lime (used in mortar for construction)

Aluminium Hydroxide

Al(OH)3

Raw Material for Aluminium Compounds

Potassium Hydroxide (potash lye)

KOH

Soft Soap

Magnesium Hydroxide

Mg(OH)2

Milk of Magnesia

Ammonia

NH3

Household Cleaners

Salts: When aqueous solutions of an acid and a base are combined, a neutralisation reaction occurs. This reaction takes place very rapidly and generally produces water and a salt. For example, sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH), yield water and sodium sulfate (Na2SO4).

Salts are produced by substituting the H+ ion with a base part or by substituting the OH- ion with an acid part. Cations and anions combine to form an electrically neutral compound.

Examples:


Prior Article - The Ion and Dissociation

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