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Acid | Base | Neutral Substances | Indicators | The pH Scale | Mandatory Practical Activity 13

Acids and Bases
An acid is a substance that when it dissolves in water
(i) will release protons (hydrogen ions).
(ii) will turn blue litmus red.
(iii) will produce a solution with a pH less than 7.
An acid is a proton donor.
An acid reacts with a base producing a salt and water.
Acids also taste sour.

A base is a substance that on dissolving in water
(i) will release hydroxide (OH-) ions,
(ii) will turn red litmus blue,
(iii) will produce a solution with a pH greater than 7.
A base is a proton acceptor.
A base reacts with an acid producing a salt and water.
Strictly the term alkali should only be used for the hydroxides of the alkali metals.
Bases taste bitter.

Neutral Substances
These are substances that are not proton donors or proton acceptors.
Neutral substances, when liquid or if soluble in water, give a solution of pH 7.
Neutral substances have no effect on litmus – red litmus stays red, blue litmus stays blue.
Examples: distilled water, petrol, sodium chloride solution, sugar solution.
Everyday examples of Acids
1. Citrus fruit juices: citric acid.
2. Vinegar: ethanoic acid (previously called acetic acid).
3. Rainwater and fizzy drinks: carbonic acid.
4. Sour milk: lactic acid.
5. Vitamin C: ascorbic acid.
6. Digestive juice of the stomach: hydrochloric acid.
7. Bee and Nettle stings: methanoic acid (previously called formic acid).
Everyday Examples of Bases
1. Bath salts and dishwasher crystals: sodium carbonate.
2. Baking soda: sodium hydrogen carbonate (known also as sodium bicarbonate).
3. Ammonia solution used to rease remover: ammonia solution.
4. Drain cleaner: sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda).
5. Milk of magnesia: magnesium hydroxide.
6. Bleach e.g. Domestos: sodium hypochlorite.
7. Wasp sting: histamine.

An indicator is a substance that shows by a change in colour that a particular substance is present, the
concentration of a particular substance an when a reaction has been completed.
Litmus is an acid-base indicator as it has a different colour in an acid to its colour in a base: litmus is red in an
acid and blue in a base.
Universal Indicator is a mixture of indicators that gives a gradual but clearly distinguishable series of colour
changes over the range from very acidic to very basic.
Litmus and Universal Indicator are available in solution or impregnated into dry test papers.
Using litmus or a universal indicator to test a variety of solutions and classify these as acidic, basic or neutral.
1. Obtain a variety of everyday solutions – rainwater, milk, bleach, vinegar, fizzy drinks, fruit juices, tea, coffee, milk
of magnesia.
2. Make up solutions of everyday soluble solids – glucose, table salt, baking powder, bath salts.
3. Put each solution into its own clearly labelled small dropping bottle or jar.
4. On a plastic sheet or white tile place small squares of blue and red litmus paper.
Arrange them in pairs – one blue and one red.
5. Place a drop of each solution on a blue and red square of litmus paper and record the colour or colours.
Both red: the solution is acidic.
Both blue: the solution is basic.
Red stayed red, blue stayed blue – the solution is neutral.

The pH Scale This is a graded number system from 0 to 14 to give a measure of the level of acidity or basicity of a solution with 7 representing neutrality.4 Saliva 7. 2. The pH of a Variety of Common Substances Solution pH Gastric Juice 2. coffee. 5. 1.0 Blood 7. bath salts. Less than 7 is acidic and the lower the number the greater the acidity. milk. 6. Match the new or unchanged colour of the tip to a colour on the pH colour chart. The number on the matching colour on the chart is the pH of the solution.0 Milk of Magnesia 10. baking powder.5 Milk 6. table salt. Dip the end of a strip of Universal Indicator paper into the solution. 4.5 C opyright © 2008 Inte l C orporation C ontac t us | A bout s koool | s koool A wards | A bout Supporters | T erms of U s e | P rivac y & Sec urity . bleach. fizzy drinks. Put each solution into its own clearly labelled small test tube. 7. vinegar.8 Seawater 8. 3.3 Toothpaste 9.5 Pure Water 7. tea. Obtain a variety of everyday solutions – rainwater. Arrange in order of pH from 0 to 10 the substances that you tested.0 Lemon Juice 2.5 Vinegar 3. Mandatory Practical Activity 13 Investigate the pH of a variety of materials using the pH scale. fruit juices. Greater than 7 is basic and the higher the number the greater the basicity. Make up solutions of everyday soluble solids – glucose.3 Orange Juice 4. milk of magnesia.4 Rainwater 5.