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Neutralization and Acid-Base Reactions

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  • 0:01 Neutralization Process
  • 0:55 Acid Base Reaction
  • 2:56 Conjugate Acid and…
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Meyers

Amy holds a Master of Science. She has taught science at the high school and college levels.

From this lesson, you will understand the neutralization process between acids and bases. Learn how a hydroxide ion from a base reacts with a hydronium ion from an acid to neutralize each other and form water. Discover what conjugate acids and bases are and what the definition of amphoteric is.

Neutralization Process

You have learned that an acid is a compound that produces hydronium ions, H3O+, and that a base is a compound that produces hydroxide ions, OH-. Strong acids and bases are those compounds that ionize nearly 100% in solution, meaning they release 100% of their hydronium and hydroxide ions into the solution.

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic something is. The pH scale runs from 1 to 14, with the value 7 representing neutral. The lower the pH, the more acidic something is; the higher the pH, the more basic it is. If something is said to be neutral, then it contains equal concentrations of hydronium and hydroxide ions. A neutralization reaction is when a hydronium ion from an acid reacts with a hydroxide ion from a base to make water and a salt.

The pH scale measures the acidity of a solution.
pH Scale Image

Acid-Base Reactions

When a strong acid solution filled with a bunch of H3O+ ions combines with a strong base filled with OH- ions, almost all of the ions combine to make water. The reaction looks like this:

OH- + H3O+ --> H2O

This very same reaction happens no matter what the acid or base is. For instance:

HCl + NaOH --> NaCl + H2O

A fun experiment to do at home is to have a glass full of limewater (Ca(OH)2 - calcium hydroxide), which is a base, and add a little phenolphthalein, a pH indicator, to it. Amazon sells both of these items. The solution will be pink because the phenolphthalein is a pH indicator that turns pink when it is added to a basic solution. Take a straw, put it in the glass and blow into it. The carbon dioxide in your breath will act as an acid and neutralize the limewater base, turning the solution clear because all the acid and base have turned to water.

Another home experiment you can do is combining baking soda and lemon juice. The citric acid of the lemon juice is neutralized by the sodium bicarbonate of the baking soda in a bubbling reaction that creates salty water.

Another home example of an acid-base reaction is baking powder. Baking powder contains both sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid. When the two components combine in baked goods, such as biscuits or cookies (mmm...cookies), they neutralize and produce carbon dioxide along with water. The carbon dioxide, which is a gas, causes the baked goods to rise.

Bread rises from an acid-base reaction that produces carbon dioxide.
Carbon Dioxide Makes Bread Rise

Another example is TUMS for the tummy-ache. The antacid in the TUMS neutralizes the extra acid in the stomach to make you feel better.

Conjugate Acid and Conjugate Base

According to Bronsted and Lowry, who you have learned about before, an acid-base reaction is simply when one molecule gives another molecule a proton. When ammonia and water react, water gives a proton to the ammonia. The ammonia becomes an ammonium ion and the water becomes a hydroxide ion.

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