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Acids and Bases

Arrhenius Acids and Bases

 Arrhenius Acid – produce H+ ions
(or hydronium ions H3O+)
eg. HCl

 Arrhenius Base – produce OH- ions

eg. NaOH

(Problem: some bases don’t have hydroxide ions!)

Bronsted-Lowry Acids and Bases
 Bonsted-Lowry Acid – proton/H+ donor
eg. H2O

 Bronsted-Lowry Base – proton/H+ acceptor

eg. NH3

A “proton” is really just a hydrogen atom that has

lost it’s electron!
Bronsted-Lowry Acids and Bases
Amphiprotic species can act as both
Brønsted–Lowry acids and bases.

A pair of species differing by a single

proton is called a conjugate acid-base
Bronsted-Lowry Acids and Bases

Base – conjugate acid pair

conjugate conjugate
base acid
acid base
Acid – conjugate base pair
The Brønsted definition means
NH3 is a BASE in water and
water is itself an ACID
+ -
NH33 ++ HH22O
O NH44+ ++ OH
Base Acid
Acid Acid
Acid Base
Conjugate Pairs
Amphoteric – can act as either an acid or a base
Al2O3 as a base: Al2O3 + 6 HCl   —>   2 AlCl3 + 3 H2O
Al2O3 as an acid: Al2O3  + 2NaOH + 3 H2O   —>  NaAl(OH)4

Amphiprotic – a type of amphoteric substance that specifically can

act as either an acid or base by accepting or donating hydrogen ions
eg. water, diprotic acids
Learning Check!
Label the acid, base, conjugate acid, and
conjugate base in each reaction:

HCl + OH--    Cl-- + H22O

H22O + H22SO44    HSO44-- + H33O++

Properties of acids and bases
Most acids have observable characteristic
chemical reactions with reactive metals, metal
oxides, metal hydroxides, hydrogen
carbonates and carbonates.

Salt and water are produced in exothermic

neutralization reactions.
Properties of Acids
 Often produce H+ in water (also written as the
hydronium ion H3O+ which is a hydrogen ion attached
to a water molecule)
 Taste sour
 Corrode metals
 Electrolytes
 React with bases (metal hydroxides) to form a salt,
 React with carbonates to form salt, water, CO2
 React with metals/metal oxides to form salt, H2
 pH is less than 7
 Turns blue litmus paper red, phenolphthalein
colourless, methyl orange red
Key Reactions
1. Acid + base  salt + water
 Eg. HCl + NaOH  NaCl + H2O
*Base can be a metal hydroxide, or a metal oxide.
2. Acid + metal  salt + hydrogen
Eg. HCl + Mg  MgCl2 + H2 (unbalanced)
3. Acid + metal carbonate  salt + water + carbon dioxide
Eg. HCl + Na2CO3  NaCl + H2O + CO2 (unbalanced)
Properties of Bases
Often produce OH- ions in water
Taste bitter
Are electrolytes
Feel soapy, slippery
React with acids to form salts and water
pH greater than 7
Turns red litmus paper blue, phenolphthalein
pink, methyl orange yellow
An alkali is a base that dissolves in water
The pH Scale
 pH = − log[H+(aq) ] and [H+] = 10−pH
 A change of one pH unit represents a 10-fold
change in the hydrogen ion concentration [H+].
 pH values distinguish between acidic, neutral
and alkaline solutions.
 The ionic product constant, Kw = [H+] [OH-] =
10−14 at 298 K.
Solving problems involving pH, [H+]
and [OH-].
The pH scale is a way of expressing
the strength of acids and bases.
Instead of using very small numbers,
we just use the NEGATIVE power of
10 on the Molarity of the H+ (or OH-)
pH 1 is 10 times stronger than pH 2
pH 1 is 100 times stronger than pH 3
Under 7 = acid
7 = neutral
Over 7 = base
Calculating pH
pH = - log10 [H+ (aq)]

where [H+] is the concentration of hydrogen ions in

mol dm-3
working backwards:

[H+ (aq)] = antilog (-pH)

[H+] = 10-pH
Ionic product constant of water - Kw
Water undergoes very slight ionisation ... H2O(l) ⇌ H+(aq) + OH¯(aq)

Applying the equilibrium law: Kc

As the dissociation is small, the water concentration is very large compared

with the dissociated ions and any changes to its value are insignificant; its
concentration can be regarded as constant.

This “constant” is combined with (Kc) to get a new constant (Kw). At 25°C:

Kw = [H+(aq)] [OH¯(aq)] mol2 dm-6 = 1 x 10-14 mol2 dm-6

Because the constant is based on an equilibrium, Kw VARIES WITH


Also note: pKw = 14 = pH + pOH

Kw variation

• Kw gets larger as the temperature increases

• this means the concentration of H+ and OH¯ ions gets greater
• this means the equilibrium has moved to the right
• if the concentration of H+ increases then the pH decreases
• pH decreases as the temperature increases

Because the equation moves to the right as the temperature goes up, it must be an
Problem 1:
Calculate the pH of 0.02M HCl?
HCl  H+ + Cl¯

[H+] = 0.02M = 2x10-2 mol dm-3

pH = - log [H+] = - (-1.7) = 1.7

Problem 2: Calculate the pH of 0.1M NaOH?

NaOH  Na+ + OH¯

[OH¯] = 0.1M = 1x 10-1 mol dm-3

Kw = [H+][OH¯] = 1 x 10-14 mol2dm-6
[H+] = Kw / [OH¯] = 1 x 10-13 moldm-3
pH = - log[H+] = 13

Method 2:
pOH = 1
pOH + pH = 14
1 + pH = 14
pH = 13
Strong and weak acids and bases
 Strong and weak acids and bases differ in the extent of
 Strong acids and bases of equal concentrations have higher
conductivities than weak acids and bases.
 A strong acid is a good proton donor and has a weak conjugate
 A strong base is a good proton acceptor and has a weak
conjugate acid.
 Distinction between strong and weak acids and bases in terms
of the rates of their reactions with metals, metal oxides, metal
hydroxides, metal hydrogen carbonates and metal carbonates
and their electrical conductivities for solutions of equal
In a nutshell:
A strong acid or base is one that completely
dissociates in water.

Eg. HCl  H+ + Cl-

<1% >99%
Strong acids/bases
Strong acids completely dissociate (split up) into ions in
aqueous solution

Eg. HCl  H+(aq) + Cl¯(aq) MONOPROTIC

HNO3  H+(aq) + NO3¯(aq)
H2SO4  2H+(aq) + SO42-(aq) DIPROTIC

Strong bases completely dissociate into ions in aqueous


Eg. NaOH  Na+(aq) + OH¯(aq)

 Note the arrow indicates COMPLETE DISSOCIATION

Weak acids/bases
Weak acids partially dissociate into ions in aqueous solution
Eg. ethanoic acid CH3COOH(aq) ⇌ CH3COO¯(aq) + H+(aq)

Can also be written as:

HA(aq) + H2O(l) ⇌ A¯(aq) + H3O+(aq)
or HA(aq) ⇌ A¯(aq) + H+(aq)

Weak bases partially dissociate into ions in aqueous solution

Eg. NH3(aq) + H2O(l) ⇌ NH4+(aq) + OH¯(aq)

⇌ Note the arrow indicates PARTIAL DISSOCIATION

Determining weak/strong,
acids/bases experimentally
A weak acid has a higher pH than a strong
acid of equal concentration
A weak acid does not conduct electricity as
well as a strong acid
A weak acid reacts more slowly than a strong
acid eg. acid + metal  H2
weak/strong, acids/bases
Strong acids:
hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid

Weak acids:
carboxylic acids (eg. ethanoic acid is vinegar), carbonic acid
Strong bases:
group 1 hydroxides (eg. NaOH), barium hydroxide

Weak bases:
ammonia and amines
Learning check:
Weak or strong, acid or base?
Ammonia NH4+ Weak base

Hydrochloric acid HCl

Strong acid
Potassium hydroxide KOH
Strong base
Ethanoic acid CH3COOH
Weak base