Chang, 7th Edition, Chapter 15

S. B. Piepho, Fall 2002

Strong and Weak Acids and Bases Definitions • An Arrhenius acid is a compound that contains hydrogen and releases hydrogen ions (H+) in water. A Brønsted acid is a proton donor (where a proton is a hydrogen ion, H+). A Lewis acid is an electron pair acceptor. • An Arrhenius base is a compound that produces hydroxide ions (OH–) in water. A Brønsted base is a proton acceptor. A Lewis base is an electron pair donor. Strong Acids Strong acids are 100% ionized in aqueous solution to form the hydronium ion, H3O+ (also written as H+(aq)) and an anion. For example, HCl in water ionizes completely: HCl + H2O → H3O+(aq) + Cl–(aq) [goes to completion] (or, equivalently, HCl + water → H+(aq) + Cl–(aq) [goes to completion]) There are very few strong acids, but they are extremely important in chemistry since they are excellent sources of H+(aq), a highly reactive ion! Strong Acid Examples: HCl (hydrochloric acid), HBr (hydrobromic acid), HI (hydroiodic acid), HNO3 (nitric acid), H2SO4 (sulfuric acid), HClO4 (perchloric acid), and a small number of nonmetallic oxides which react with water to give a strong acid (eg., SO3(g) + H2O → H2SO4). Weak Acids Most acids are weak. Weak acids are typically less than 5% ionized in water; thus the predominant species is the un-ionized form. Since relatively small amounts of H+(aq) are formed, weak acids are not very reactive. Typical weak acid ionizations in water are HC2H3O2 + H2O ↔ H3O+(aq) + C2H3O2–(aq) (or, equivalently, HC2H3O2 + water ↔ H+(aq) + C2H3O2–(aq)) SO2(g) + H2O ↔ H2SO3 ↔ H+(aq) + HSO3–(aq) (or, equivalently, SO2(g) + 2 H2O ↔ H3O+(aq) + HSO3–(aq)) In each case above, reaction proceeds only to a very limited extent; typically over 95% of the weak acid remains un-ionized! Since the predominant form is un-ionized, chemists do not split up weak acids into ions when writing an ionic equation. Weak Acid Examples: • Molecular compounds with an acidic hydrogen: HC2H3O2 = CH3COOH (acetic acid), HF (hydrofluoric acid), HNO2 (nitrous acid), HCN (hydrocyanic acid), C6H5COOH (benzoic acid). • Non-metallic oxides: SO2(g) (sulfur dioxide), CO2(g) (carbon dioxide), and NO(g) (nitrogen oxide). A few non-metallic oxides such as SO3(g) (sulfur trioxide) and N2O5(g) (dinitrogen

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• The less soluble hydroxides and oxides of the alkaline earth cations are weak bases. and amine-type cations such as CH3NH3+. Examples include H+. B. K2O(s) (potassium oxide). 7th Edition. Much like weak acids. An example is HSO4. Weak Bases The vast majority of bases are weak. Numerous metallic cations are acidic. Since their water solutions contain low concentrations of OH–(aq). they are not very reactive. while those for Ca2+ are on the borderline between strong and weak due to their limited solubility in water. ammonium ion (NH4+). but they are extremely important in chemistry since they are excellent sources of OH–(aq). OH–. Anions of type HX. and Fe3+ which have a high charge to radius ratio. the more acidic metal cations are those such as Be+2. the hydroxides and oxides of Ba2+ and Sr2+ are generally considered strong bases. This is a tiny class!! Strong Bases Strong bases are 100% ionized in aqueous solution to form the hydroxide ion. Since solubility increases for these compounds as you go down Column II. Acidic oxides of S and N are major contributors to acid rain. BaO(s) (barium oxide). • Alkali metal oxides and the more soluble alkaline earth oxides: Na2O(s) (sodium oxide). typically over 95% of the weak base remains un-ionized! Weak bases are therefore not split up into ions when writing ionic equations. Al+3.(conjugate base of H2SO4) which is a moderately strong acid. and a cation. Ba(OH)2(s) (barium hydroxide). Examples of weak base ionization reactions include NH3 + H2O ↔ NH4+(aq) + OH–(aq) CH3NH2 + H2O ↔ CH3NH3+(aq) + OH–(aq) Cu(OH)2(s) + water ↔ Cu2+(aq) + 2 OH–(aq) CuO(s) + H2O ↔ Cu2+(aq) + 2 OH–(aq) In each case above. Weak Base Examples Page 2 of 3 . Chapter 15 S.Chang. reaction proceeds only to a very limited extent. a highly reactive ion! Typical ionization reactions are NaOH(s) + water → Na+(aq) + OH–(aq) [goes to completion] Na2O(s) + H2O → 2 Na+(aq) + 2 OH–(aq) [goes to completion] Strong Base Examples: • Alkali metal hydroxides and the more soluble alkaline earth hydroxides: NaOH(s) (sodium hydroxide). weak bases are typically less than 5% ionized. Most cations are acidic. There are very few strong bases.which are conjugate to strong or moderately strong acids H2X. Piepho. KOH(s) (potassium hydroxide). Fall 2002 • • pentoxide) give strong acids when dissolved in water.

Fall 2002 Metal hydroxides and metal oxides other than those listed as strong bases above. I–. K+. Typical amine-type bases have an ammonia-type structure. etc. SO42–. and many other organic molecules. NO3–. and Cu(OH)2(s) (copper(II) hydroxide). Br–. alcohols. starch. Most anions are basic. sugars. Ba2+. Chapter 15 • • • S. Neutral Compounds and Ions So many compounds and ions are acidic or basic. • Hydrocarbons. Examples include Mg(OH)2(s) (magnesium hydroxide). B. H2O. • Most anions produced upon ionization of the strong acids: Cl–. Page 3 of 3 . MgO(s) (magnesium oxide). you may wonder whether anything is neutral! Examples of neutral substances include: • Water. Piepho.Chang. but with one or more of the H atoms replaced by a hydrocarbon group. • The cations present in the strong hydroxide and oxide bases: Na+. 7th Edition. a constituent of calcium carbonate (CaCO3(s)). Ammonia (NH3) and amine-type bases such as CH3NH2. Common examples include HCO3–(aq) (hydrogen carbonate or bicarbonate ion) which is present in sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3(s)) and CO32–(aq) (carbonate ion).

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