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Acids, Bases and Salts

By the end of the lesson, you should be able to:

□ Describe the reactions of acids with metals, bases, alkalis, carbonates.

□ Describe the reactions of bases with acids and of soluble bases (alkalis)
with ammonium salts.
□ State the ions present in aqueous solutions of acids and alkalis.
□ Explain what happens in neutralization.
□ State the effect of acids and alkalis on indicators, including Universal
□ Describe and explain the importance of controlling the pH of soil.
□ Classify oxides as either acidic, basic or amphoteric related to
metallic/non-metallic character.
□ Describe the preparation, separation and purification of salts using
filtration and crystallization, for:
- acids with metals
- acids with insoluble bases (eg metal oxides)
- acids with insoluble carbonates
□ Describe the preparation of a salt by a titration method.
□ Suggest a method of preparing a given salt from suitable starting
□ Know which common salts are soluble and which are insoluble.

Please tick in the box if you can do any of the above.


 The table below shows the names of some common acids, their
formulae and the ions they produce in aqueous solution.
⇒ Complete the table below.

 Many naturally occurring acids, such as citric acid found in oranges,

are sometimes known as organic acids.

 Definition of acid: A substance which produces hydrogen ions, H+,

when it is dissolved in water.

 All acids contain hydrogen but not all compounds that contain
hydrogen are acids. For example, both ammonia, (NH3) and methane
(CH4) contain hydrogen, but they are not acids because they do not
produce hydrogen ions in water.

Properties of acids

1. Acids have a sour taste.

2. Acids dissolve in water to form solutions which conduct electricity.

3. Acids turn blue litmus paper red.

4. Acids react with metals

 Most dilute acids react with metals to produce a salt and a
hydrogen gas.
 The general equation for the reaction is:
Metal + Acid  Salt + Hydrogen

 For example, when magnesium ribbon is added to dilute sulphuric
acid, bubbles of hydrogen gas can be seen. The equation for this
reaction is:

Magnesium + dilute sulphuric acid  magnesium sulphate + hydrogen

Mg(s) + H2SO4(aq)  MgSO4(aq) + H2(g)

⇒ What is the salt produced in the above reaction?


⇒ What do you call the salts formed from the following acids:
Sulphuric acid, sulphates
Nitric acid, nitrates
Hydrochloric acid? Chlorides

• If a lighted splint is placed at the mouth

of the test tube, what will you observed?
A ‘pop’ sound will be heard.

• What does this observation tell you?

Hydrogen is confirmed produce.

Quick Questions:
⇒ Complete the word equations and then write a balanced chemical
equation for each.
a) hydrochloric acid + zinc metal 

b) sulphuric acid + magnesium metal 


c) nitric acid + lithium metal 


d) hydrochloric acid + magnesium metal 


e) phosphoric acid + aluminium metal 

5. Acids react with carbonates

 Most dilute acids react with carbonates to produce a salt, carbon
dioxide and water.
 The general equation for the reaction is:

Carbonate + acid  salt + water + carbon dioxide

⇒ In the reaction between sodium carbonate and dilute hydrochloric

acid, what will be the products?
Sodium chloride, water and carbon dioxide.

⇒ Write a word equation and a balanced chemical equation for the

reaction between sodium carbonate and dilute hydrochloric acid.
Sodium carbonate + hydrochloric acid sodium chloride + water + CO2

⇒ Using the set-up shown above , what would you expect your
observation of the limewater? Explain your observation.
Observation:The limewater will turn chalky.
Explanation: This shows that carbon dioxide is produced in the reaction.

Quick Questions:
⇒ Complete the word equations and then write a balanced chemical
equation for each.

a) hydrochloric acid + zinc carbonate 


b) sulphuric acid + magnesium carbonate 


c) nitric acid + potassium carbonate 


d) hydrochloric acid + copper(II) carbonate 


e) phosphoric acid + aluminium carbonate 


6. Acids react with metal oxides and hydroxides

 Most metal oxides and hydroxides react slowly with warm dilute
acids forming a salt and water.
 The general equation for the reaction are:

Metal oxide + acid  salt + water

Metal hydroxide + acid  salt + water

⇒ Write a word equation and a balanced chemical equation for the

reaction between zinc oxide and dilute sulphuric acid.


⇒ Write a word equation and a balanced chemical equation for the

reaction between zinc hydroxide and dilute nitric acid.


Quick Questions:
⇒ Complete the word equations and then write a balanced chemical
equation for each.
a) hydrochloric acid + lithium oxide 

b) sulphuric acid + barium hydroxide 


c) nitric acid + sodium oxide 


d) hydrochloric acid + magnesium hydroxide 


e) Ethanoic acid + Aluminium hydroxide 

The Importance of Water for Acids

 Citric acid is a solid acid. It has no effect on a piece of dry blue litmus
paper. Also, the solid does not react with a piece of magnesium ribbon.

 A solution of citric acid in water behaves differently. It changes the

colour of blue litmus paper to red and produces bubbles of hydrogen
gas with magnesium.

 Similar results occur with all acids. For example, hydrogen chloride
gas, HCl(g) behaves differently when dissolved in alcohol and in water.

- Hydrogen chloride in alcohol

There is no colour change with litmus and no reaction with

- Hydrogen chloride in water

It turns blue litmus red and reacts with magnesium.

 Again, we find that water is needed for an acid to show acidic
properties. How can we explain this?

 The explanation can be given from the diagram shown below:

 The diagram above shows how hydrogen chloride dissociates in water

to form hydrogen and chloride ions.

 Acids can only show the properties of acids when they are dissolved in
water. This is because acids dissociate in water to produce hydrogen
ions which are responsible for the acidic properties.

 Hydrogen chloride can exist as two different types of particles.

 Hydrogen chloride exists as covalent molecules. In the absence of

water, for example, in organic solvents (alcohol), they do not behave as

Quick Questions:

1. Explain why solid citric acid does not react with magnesium metal and
has no effect on litmus paper.
Because solid citric acid cannot dissociate to form hydrogen ions in the
absence of water.
Basicity of an Acid

 Some acids form just one hydrogen ion when dissolved in water
whereas others form more than one.

 The maximum number of hydrogen ions produced by a molecule of an

acid is called the basicity of the acid.

⇒ Complete the table below:

Quick questions:

1. How many hydrogen atoms does ethanoic acid contain? 4

2. How many of these hydrogen atoms form hydrogen ions? 1

Strong and Weak Acids

 In a solution of strong acid, all the acid molecules become ions in the

 For example, a solution of hydrochloric acid only contains H+(aq) and Cl-
(aq) ions and no HCl molecules. The HCl molecules have all ionized in
HCl(aq)  H+(aq) + Cl-(aq)

⇒ Give examples of strong acid.


A strong acid is one that completely ionizes (dissociates) in water.

 In a solution of a weak acid, most of the acid molecules remain

unchanged in water.

 Few acid molecules are ionized to become hydrogen ions. An example is
a solution of ethanoic acid, CH3COOH.

 In 1.0 mol/dm3 solution of ethanoic acid, only about 4 out of every

1000 acid molecules become ions in water. The other 996 molecules
remain unchanged.

A weak acid is one that partially ionizes (dissociates) in water.

 Another weak acid, sometimes called carbonic acid, is formed when

carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water:

 A solution of carbonic acid contains many H2CO3 molecules but only a

few of them ionize to form H+(aq) ions and CO32-(aq) ions.

 Weak acids are often found in foods and drinks. Vinegar is a weak
acid; it contains ethanoic acid. Soft drinks contain carbonic acid.

Quick Questions:
1. The equation for the dissociation of ethanoic acid contains a double
arrow . What do you think it means?
It means the reaction is a reversible reaction.

2. Draw a diagram to show the kinds of particles in carbonic acid.

Reactivity of Strong and Weak Acids

⇒ Between strong acids and weak acids, which one will react more
vigorously? Strong acids

⇒ In the diagram below, label which reaction belongs to strong or

weak acids.

Comparing Strong and Weak Acids with Concentrated and Dilute Acids

 The term ‘strong’ DOES NOT have the same meaning as


 Similarly, the term ‘weak’ DOES NOT have the same meaning as

 Strong and weak refer to the extent of ionisation.

 Concentrated and dilute refer to the amount of solute in the solution.

Quick Questions:
1. For each of the following bottles of acids, label them as either
‘concentrated solution’ or ‘dilute solution’ and also as either ‘strong acid’
or ‘weak acid’.

Uses of Acids
⇒ List the uses of the following acids.


 The table below shows the names of some common bases and their
⇒ Complete the table below.

 Bases are a group of compounds that act differently from acids.

 As we shall see, when we mix an acid and a base, each destroys the
properties of the other.

 For this reason, we often think of acids and bases as chemical

⇒ What are bases?

Bases are the oxides or hydroxides of metals.

⇒ Give two examples of bases.

Copper(II) oxide (insoluble), Sodium hydroxide (soluble)

 Some bases are insoluble in water. Others are soluble. For example,
copper(II) oxide is insoluble in water, so it is a base but not an alkali.

⇒ What are alkalis?

Alkalis are bases that are soluble in water.

 All alkalis are bases, but not all bases are alkalis.

 The relationship between bases and alkalis can be shown as:

Properties of Alkalis

1. Alkalis have a bitter taste and soapy feel.

2. Alkalis turn red litmus paper blue.

3. All alkalis produce hydroxide ions when dissolved in water.

 For example,

Sodium hydroxide  sodium ion + hydroxide ion


⇒ When ammonia gas dissolves in water, what ions will be formed?

Ammonia + water ammonium ions + hydroxide ion

4. All alkalis can react with acids to form a salt and water.
This reaction is called neutralisation.

 In this reaction, the hydrogen ions from the acid react with the
hydroxide ions of the alkali. The ionic equation for this reaction is:
H+(aq) + OH-(aq)  H2O(l)

 The neutralisation reaction is exothermic. This means that heat is

given out in the reaction.

 When an alkali is slowly added to an acid from a burette, the

temperature steadily increases until all the acid has reacted (is

 If more alkali is then added, the temperature does not increase as
there is no more acid to react.

5. Alkalis heated with ammonium salts to give off ammonia gas.

 The general equation for the reaction is:

Alkali + Ammonium salt  ammonia + water + salt

Quick questions:
⇒ Complete the word equations and then write a balanced chemical
equation for each.
a) calcium hydroxide + ammonium chloride

b) sodium hydroxide + ammonium nitrate 


c) barium hydroxide + ammonium sulphate 


⇒ How do we test that ammonia is being evolved by the end of the

reaction between an alkali and an ammonium salt?
Characteristic pungent smell and turns red litmus paper blue.

6. Alkalis can react with a solution of one metal salt to give metal
hydroxide and another metal salt.

 The general equation for this reaction:

Alkali + salt(of metal A)  metal hydroxide + salt( of metal B)

 The metal hydroxide appears as a precipitate if it is insoluble in water.

 For example, sodium hydroxide reacts with a solution of iron(II)

sulphate to give iron(III) hydroxide and sodium sulphate.

⇒ Construct a balanced chemical equation for the reaction mentioned


Quick questions:
⇒ Complete the word equations and then write a balanced chemical
equation for each.
a) sodium hydroxide + copper sulphate 

b) calcium hydroxide + silver nitrate 


c) barium hydroxide + iron chloride 

Uses of Bases and Alkalis
⇒ List the uses of the following bases and alkalis.

The pH Scale

 Most solutions of acids and alkalis are colourless. Therefore, we

cannot identify them just by appearance.

 To test for acids and alkalis, we use indicators.

⇒ What is an indicator?
An indicator is a substance that has different colours in acidic and
alkaline solutions.

⇒ Give three examples of indicators.

Phenolphthalein, methyl orange and litmus.

⇒ Using the bench reagents, use the following indicators and write
down your observation of the colour when the indicator is in acid
and in alkali in the table below.
Indicator Colour in acids Colour in alkalis
Methyl Orange
Screened methyl

 Simple indicators, such as litmus, tell whether a solution is an acid or

an alkali.

 However, other indicators not only indicate an acid or an alkali, but

also how acidic or alkaline a solution is.

A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution is known as pH.

 The pH scale is a set of numbers used to indicate whether a solution is

acidic, neutral or alkaline.

⇒ What will be the pH for the following:

a) acidic solution, less than 7
b) neutral solution, exactly 7
c) alkaline solution, greater than 7

 The pH of a solution is calculated based on the number of hydrogen
ions or hydroxide ions present in a solution.

 Acids with a smaller pH value have a higher concentration of hydrogen


 Alkaline solutions with a larger pH value have a higher concentration

of hydroxide ions.

⇒ The diagram below shows the pH scale and colour chart for
Universal Indicator. On the diagram, indicate the position of the
following substances in the pH scale:
Hydrochloric acid Nitric acid Sulphuric Acid Ethanoic Acid
Pure water Aqueous ammonia Sodium hydroxide

Measuring the pH of a solution

1. Universal Indicator
 It contains a mixture of dyes. It gives different colours in solutions
of different pH.

2. pH meter
 Universal Indicator gives only approximate values. We can use a pH
meter to obtain accurate values.
 The probe is dipped into the solution and the meter shows the pH
either on a scale or digitally.

3. pH sensor and computer

 A pH sensor connected to a computer through an interface can be
used to measure the pH of a solution.
 The pH reading is displayed on the computer screen.

The Importance of pH

1. pH and the body

 Substances in the body have different pH values.
 Acidic conditions in the stomach (pH ~ 1.5) and alkaline conditions in
the small intestine (pH ~ 8.4)

2. pH and food preservation

 Many fresh foods quickly go bad. This is mainly due to microorganisms,
such as bacteria, which are present in the food.
 Microorganisms do not grow well in solutions of low pH. Therefore,
acids can be used to preserve foods.
⇒ Give three acids that are commonly used in food preservation.
Ethanoic acid(vinegar), benzoic acid, citric acid.

3. pH in the garden
 The pH of soil is important for good plant growth. Here are examples
of the pH of soil in which plants grow best:
- Orchids – more acidic soil (pH 4-5)
- Azaleas, strawberries, apples, potatoes – weakly acidic soil (pH 5-6)
- Common vegetables, e.g. beans, peas, lettuce, onion – about neutral
soil (pH 6-8)

4. pH and hair
 Normal hair is weakly acidic with a pH of about 5. At this pH, the hair
is smooth, strong and healthy. Alkaline solutions make hair curly.
⇒ What do you think the pH of shampoo?Alkaline (pH more than 7)
⇒ Why do you think we use conditioners after we shampoo our hair?
To restore the pH of hair to its normal value because most hair
conditioners contain weak natural acids.

Types of Oxides
 Many acids and alkalis are formed by dissolving oxides in water.
 Most oxides can be grouped into four types: acidic oxides, basic
oxides, amphoteric oxides and neutral oxides.

Acidic oxides
 Oxides of non-metals are acidic oxides.
 Most acidic oxides dissolve in water to form an acid.
⇒ Give examples of acidic oxides.
Sulphur trioxide, carbon dioxide, sulphur trioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
 Acidic oxides do not react with acids. However, they react with alkalis
to form a salt and water.
⇒ Construct a balance chemical equation for the reaction between
carbon dioxide and sodium hydroxide.

Basic oxides
 Oxides of metals are basic oxides.
⇒ Give examples of basic oxides.
Magnesium oxide, copper (II) oxide and calcium oxide
 Basic oxides react with acids to form a salt and water.
⇒ Construct a balance chemical equation for the reaction between
calcium oxide and nitric acid.

Amphoteric oxides
 Amphoteric oxides are metallic oxides that react with both acids and
bases to form salts and water.
⇒ Give examples of amphoteric oxides.
Aluminium oxide, zinc oxide and lead(II) oxide

⇒ Construct a balance chemical equation for the reaction between

zinc oxide and hydrochloric acid.


⇒ Construct a balance chemical equation for the reaction between

zinc oxide and sodium hydroxide.

Na2ZnO2 + H2O

 A salt is obtained from an acid by replacing the acid hydrogen atoms
with metal ions (or with ammonium ions)
e.g. sodium chloride, NaCl, is obtained by replacing the H of HCl with a
sodium ion, Na+.
Ammonium sulphate, (NH4)2SO4, is obtained by replacing the two H
atoms of H2SO4 with two ammonium ions, NH4+.

 Acid salts only have some (but not all) of the acid hydrogen atoms
replaced by metal atoms.
e.g. Sodium hydrogensulphate, NaHSO4, is an acid salt from sulphuric
acid (only one H atom of H2SO4 is replaced; one H remains).

 Reactions producing salts:





 Although salts are ionic compounds, not all salts are soluble in water.
Figure below summarises the solubilities of the common salts in water
at room temperature.

Preparation of Salts