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Neutralization Reaction: Definition, Equation & Examples

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  • 0:00 Neutralization Reaction
  • 2:30 Net Ionic Equation
  • 4:10 Weak Acids and Bases
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Nissa Garcia

Nissa has a masters degree in chemistry and has taught high school science and college level chemistry.

Have you ever had a burning feeling in your stomach after eating too much spicy food? This is due to a buildup of stomach acid and can be relieved by taking an antacid. This causes a neutralization reaction, which is what we will cover in this lesson.

Neutralization Reaction

Neutralization is a type of chemical reaction in which a strong acid and strong base react with each other to form water and salt. Have you ever been unlucky enough to be stung by a wasp or a bee? Bee stings are acidic in nature, which is why a household remedy for a bee sting is baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, which is a basic substance. A wasp sting, on the other hand, is mildly basic, so a household remedy for this will be vinegar, also known as acetic acid. These simple treatments ease these painful stings by a process called neutralization.

Heartburn, as well as an acidic stomach due to eating too much spicy food, can be relieved by taking an antacid. The antacid is alkaline/basic and helps neutralize the stomach's acidic environment. You may have used medicine to ease your heartburn via the process of neutralization.


Antacid to Neutralize Stomach Acid


Do you love to garden? Plants can be picky and have their own preference in the pH of the soil. Depending on which plants you grow, there are ways to treat and neutralize soil that is too acidic or too basic so that the plants will grow happy and healthy.

Would you like to avoid frequent visits to the dentist? When food particles decay in our teeth, the level of acidity in our mouth rises. This leads to tooth decay. Thankfully, our toothpaste is alkaline, so this neutralizes the acids and helps prevent tooth decay.

Chemically, neutralization typically looks like this:


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What exactly is a salt? A salt is formed when a cation (positive ion) of an base forms a compound with the anion (negative ion) of a acid. The neutralization of a strong acid and a strong base results in a solution with a pH of 7 (neutral pH).


pH Values


The following is a table of common strong acids and strong bases:


Common Strong Acids and Strong Bases


When a strong acidic solution reacts with a strong basic solution, neutralization occurs, and drawing from common acids and bases in the table, the reaction will look like the following:


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How do we exactly predict what the products will be? Based on these examples, we can also note that a neutralization reaction is also a double replacement reaction - this will help us predict the products that form in this type of reaction. To recall, a double replacement reaction has the form:


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By applying this format to that of a neutralization reaction, it will look like:


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Net Ionic Equation

Earlier, we mentioned strong acids and bases, and they are both classified as strong electrolytes. But what is an electrolyte? An electrolyte is a substance that, when dissolved in water, dissociates, or breaks down into a cation (positive ion) and an anion (negative ion). This breakdown into ions is also known as ionization. We can say that an electrolyte is strong when it ionizes completely in solution.


Dissociation of a Strong Electrolyte in Water


Because of this, we can say that when a strong acidic solution and a strong basic solution both react with each other, they completely dissociate into their respective cations and anions. Let us take, for example, the reaction of a strong acid and a strong base, such as Hydrogen Bromide (HBr) and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH). The reaction produces water and a soluble salt called Potassium Chloride (KCl). Since the salt is soluble in water, that means it completely dissociates in water and the water remains in its molecular form, as illustrated in the following equations:


Ionization that Occurs in a Neutralization Reaction


From here, you can see that the dissociation results in an ionic equation. During dissociation, you may notice that there are the same ions on both the reactant side and product side. These ions are what we call spectator ions.

The ionic equation can be further condensed into a net ionic equation, which is what we call an equation that shows only the particles involved in a chemical reaction. This figure shows how to arrive from the ionic equation to the net ionic equation by removing the spectator ions from both sides:


Net Ionic Equation of a Neutralization Reaction  Involving Strong Acids and Strong Bases


Weak Acids and Bases

Neutralization occurs not only with strong acid and strong base reactions, but also with weak acids and bases. The following is a table of some common weak acids and weak bases:


Common Weak Acids and Weak Bases


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