Strong Acids & Bases: Table & Examples

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson will touch on the basics of acids and bases as well as the pH and pOH scale. We will then go over some strong acids and strong bases, their pH and/or pOH, and a couple of common uses.

Acids and Bases

Chemicals are all around us. We consume them in certain foods and drinks and use them for different reasons such as cleaning. We even have chemicals throughout our bodies. Not all chemicals are the same however.

Some chemicals are acids which are charged molecules or compounds that release hydrogen ions (H+) when they break apart. Other chemicals are bases which are charged molecules or compounds that release hydroxide ions, (OH-) when they break apart.

Even within these two categories, not all acids and bases are the same. Acids range from being slightly acidic to being very acidic. Likewise, bases range from being slightly basic, also called alkaline, to being very alkaline. The pH scale is a scale from 0 - 14 that is used to determine the concentration of H+ in a compound or molecule.

The pH scale with a list of examples substances.
Picture of pH scale

The lower the pH number, the more H+ released by the substance therefore making it more acidic. As you may already know, acids and bases are opposites. Since that is the case, the same scale works in the opposite direction as a pOH scale, which determines the concentration of OH- in a molecule or compound. The lower the pOH number, the more OH- released, making it more basic.

Strong Acids

You may be a little surprised when you learn that one of the strongest acids is inside of your body! Hydrochloric acid, or HCl, is a compound substance composed of hydrogen and chlorine atoms that has a pH of 0 - 1 depending on the concentration. Now, this acid does not exist in full strength in your body. It is mixed with other compounds that reduces the acidity.

Chemical Name Chemical Formula Ionization
Hydrochloric acid HCl H(+) + Cl(-)
Sulfuric acid H2 SO4 H(+) + HSO4
Nitric acid HNO3 H(+) + NO3
Hydroiodic acid HI H(+) + I(-)
Hydrobromic acid HBr H(+) + Br(-)
Chloric acid HClO3 H(+) + ClO3

If you are into gardening, then you probably used a fertilizer that is made from sulfuric acid, another strong acid. Sulfuric acid is an acid composed of hydrogen combined with sulfate to give the chemical formula H2 SO4. The pH of sulfuric acid is anywhere from 0.3 - 2.1 depending on the concentration.

Or perhaps you used a fertilizer that is made from nitric acid, or HNO3. This is a strong acid composed of hydrogen and nitrate with a pH of 1. Other strong acids include hydroiodic acid, chloric acid, hydrobromic acid, and perchloric acid.

Strong Bases

You likely have some substances made with strong bases in your home right now. NaOH, or sodium hydroxide, is a basic substance with a pOH of about 1 and pH of 13, composed of a sodium atom and hydroxide molecule. It is commonly used in the making of plastic and drain cleaners.

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