Neutral Solution: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What Are Neutral Solutions?
  • 0:31 The Chemistry Behind…
  • 2:15 Neutral pH to the Rescue
  • 3:06 Examples
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Did you know that tap water and even human blood are neutral solutions? Continue reading to learn what neutral solutions are and how to identify them.

What Are Neutral Solutions?

Imagine a cold glass of water on a hot summer day. That cup of water isn't just refreshing, it's also something we call a neutral solution. The word 'neutral' in this instance means exactly what you think; these solutions love balance and don't like to choose sides. By definition, a neutral solution is a solution that has a pH of 7. It is neither acidic (pH < 7) nor basic (pH > 7), but right in the middle, or neutral.

The Chemistry Behind Being Neutral

If you take the structure of water and rip it in half, what do you get? Well, you'll have a hydrogen ion and hydroxide ion. We say ion here because the molecules are charged, positive (+) and negative (-). In chemistry, when we think of neutral solutions the first thing that comes to mind is a balance between these two distinct ions: hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH-). Remember what we said earlier, that neutral = balance = happy place? Just like you can spot a neutral solution by looking at a pH scale, the same goes for looking at these two guys, hydroxide and hydrogen ions.

When hydrogen equals hydroxide, that means the solution sitting in front of you is neutral. Now, if you decide a neutral solution is just plain ole' boring and dump a few hydrogen ions into the mix, balance is no longer there, and your watery solution is now considered to be more acidic. The same goes for hydroxide ions on the other side; add one too many hydroxide ions to that watery solution, and it becomes basic.

Formula

For neutral solutions, you may see this concept presented as an equation like (H+) = (OH-) = 1*10^-7. Let's break the equation down for a moment. It just means that when hydrogen ion (H+) is equal to hydroxide ion (OH-), the concentration will be 1*10^-7.

If you look at that number carefully do you see anything that stands out? You probably guessed it -- the exponent 7! As we saw in the pH scale, neutral solutions have a pH of 7. Lovely number 7 offers us a great clue when testing a solution to see if it is neutral.

Neutral pH to the Rescue

So what happens when an acid such as lemon juice and a base like milk of magnesia decide to battle it out against each other? A neutral pH can step in and save the day. Whenever you mix an acid with a base, the solution can be neutralized. Remember, neutralization contains the prefix 'neutral-' which you should automatically think pH = 7.

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