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Acids and Alkalis

Acids, bases, alkalis and metals are found in the laboratory and at home. They can be
irritant or corrosive and must be handled carefully. How acid or alkaline a chemical is can be
measured on the pH scale, using indicators like litmus and universal indicator. Acids and
bases react together to form salts and other products too.

Acids in the laboratory

Dilute acids

You will have used some dilute acids at school, such as hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid
and nitric acid. Their bottles are labelled with the warning symbol for 'irritant'.

This means that if any of them makes contact with your skin, it will become red or blistered.
You must wash off any spills with plenty of water, otherwise your skin will soon feel as if it is

Concentrated acids

You are unlikely to have used concentrated acids but your teacher might have shown you
some experiments with them. This is because concentrated acids are corrosive. They can
attack metals and destroy skin if spilled.

Acids in the home
Laboratory acids are far too dangerous to taste, but you will have swallowed some dilute
weak acids. Acids have a sour taste, like vinegar, which containsethanoic acid, and

but they can still hurt if they get into a cut or into your eyes. tannic acid in tea and ascorbic acid which is vitamin C. These are safe to use in food. found in fruit and vegetables. Other acids you will find at home are carbonic acid in fizzy drinks. Source Acid Vinegar Ethanoic acid Fizzy drinks Carbonic acid Tea Tannic acid Vitamin C Ascorbic acid . which contain citric acid.lemons.

we call it an alkali. It's also an alkali because it dissolves in water. .they do not dissolve in water. Here are two examples:  Copper oxide is a base because it will react with acids and neutralise them.  Sodium hydroxide is a base because it will react with acids and neutralise them. Many bases are insoluble . Source Acid Lemons Citric acid Bases and alkalis Bases vs alkalis Bases are substances that react with acids and neutralise them. but it is not an alkali because it does not dissolve in water. metal hydroxides. They are usually metal oxides. If a base does dissolve in water. metal carbonates or metal hydrogen carbonates.

so it is easy to tell when you have had an accident and must wash your hands. but many people do not realise this. Indicators and the pH scale . Bases in the home Bases react with oils and fats. Like acids. Drain cleaners and oven cleaners usually contain sodium hydroxide for example. This means that they will make your skin red or blistered unless you wash off any spills with plenty of water. Weak bases and alkalis are found in toothpaste.All alkalis are bases. such as sodium hydroxide solution. their bottles are labelled with the warning symbol for 'irritant'. otherwise they will react with your skin and burn it. Ammonia can be recognised by its choking smell. They can attack metals and destroy skin if spilled. Concentrated alkalis are corrosive. It is wise to wear gloves when using these substances. but only soluble bases are alkalis Bases in the laboratory You will have used some strong bases and alkalis at school. antacid tablets (to help cure an upset stomach) and baking powder. They are just as dangerous as concentrated acids. And ammonia is also commonly used in cleaners. so they are often used in strong household cleaners. Alkalis feel soapy when they get on your skin.

and it turns purple in neutral solutions. This is better than saying 'nothing' or 'stayed the same'. Pure water is neutral. Indicators are substances that change colour when they are added to acidic or alkaline solutions. Litmus paper is usually more reliable.When an acid is dissolved in water we get an acidic solution. and comes as red litmus paper and blue litmus paper. Red Litmus Blue Litmus Acidic solution Stays red Turns red Neutral solution Stays red Stays blue Alkaline solution Turns blue Stays blue Notice how we say 'stays red'. and so is paraffin. Acids turn blue litmus paper red Alkalis turn red litmus paper blue . If a solution is neither acidic nor alkaline we call itneutral. The table shows the colour changes it can make. Litmus and universal indicator are two indicators that are commonly used in the laboratory. You can prepare homemade indicators from red cabbage or beetroot juice . because it tells us the colour we actually see. and alkalis make alkaline solutions.these will help you see if a solution is acidic or alkaline. Litmus Litmus indicator solution turns red in acidic solutions and blue in alkaline solutions .

The pH scale runs from pH 0 to pH 14. from red for strong acids to dark purple for strong bases. These are the important points about the pH scale:  neutral solutions are pH 7 exactly  acidic solutions have pH values less than 7  alkaline solutions have pH values more than 7  the closer to pH 0 you go. Unlike litmus. Universal indicator has many different colour changes. and a neutral solution is made if you add just the right amount of acid and base together. the more strongly acidic a solution is  the closer to pH 14 you go. universal indicator can show us exactly how strongly acidic or alkaline a solution is. neutral pH 7 is indicated by green. metal oxide + acid → a salt + water metal hydroxide + acid → a salt + water . the more strongly alkaline a solution is Reactions of acids with bases A chemical reaction happens if you mix together an acid and a base. For example copper oxide and sodium hydroxide. The reaction is called neutralisation. Universal indicator and the pH scale Universal indicator is a mixture of several different indicators. In the middle. Metal oxides and metal hydroxides Metal oxides and metal hydroxides are two types of bases. This is measured using the pH scale. Here are general word equations for what happens in their neutralisation reactions with acids.

But the exact salt made depends upon which acid and base were used. But this time we get carbon dioxide gas too. and too much of this causes indigestion. The reaction fizzes as bubbles of carbon dioxide are given off. The exact salt made depends upon which acid and base were used. The name of a salt has two parts:  the first part comes from the metal in the base used  the second part comes from the acid that was used Example Where does the name potassium nitrate come from? These are the rules for the second part of the name of a salt: . Carbonates and hydrogen carbonates Carbonates and hydrogen carbonates are two other types of base. Notice that a salt and water are always produced. which contains sodium hydrogen carbonate. They also make a salt and water when we neutralise them with acid.  Your stomach contains hydrochloric acid. These are the general word equations for what happens: acid + metal carbonate → a salt + water + carbon dioxide acid + metal hydrogen carbonate → a salt + water + carbon dioxide Using neutralisation  Farmers use lime (calcium oxide) to neutralise acid soils. Naming salts A salt is always made when an acid is neutralised by a base. The mixture usually warms up a little during the reaction.  Bee stings are acidic. too. Antacid tablets contain bases such as magnesium hydroxide and magnesium carbonate to neutralise the extra acid. This is easy to remember because we see the word 'carbonate' in the chemical names. They can be neutralised using baking powder.

Acid used Second part of salt's name hydrochloric acid chloride sulphuric acid sulphate nitric acid nitrate Example: copper sulphate Copper sulfate crystal How can we make copper sulphate? The first part of the name is 'copper'. so we need to use sulphuric acid. copper oxide + sulphuric acid →copper sulphate + water copper carbonate + sulphuric acid →copper sulphate + water + carbon dioxide Example: sodium chloride How can we make sodium chloride? The first part of the name is 'sodium'. Here are word equations for those reactions. so we need a base containing sodium. so we need a base containing copper. Here are word equations for those reactions. The second part of the name is 'sulphate'. The second part of the name is 'chloride'. We could use copper oxide or copper carbonate. for example. We could use sodium hydroxide or sodium hydrogen carbonate. sodium hydroxide + hydrochloric acid → sodium chloride + water . for example. so we need to use hydrochloric acid.

Instead we get hydrogen gas. if there is a reaction we always get hydrogen gas as well as the salt. So it would not be safe to taste the sodium chloride solution produced. Reactions of acids with metals Acids react with most metals and a salt is produced. this is not clear from their names. A lighted wooden splint goes pop if it is put into a test tube of hydrogen. But unlike the reaction between acids and bases we don't get any water. Apart from hydrochloric acid. Remember that the chemical symbol for hydrogen is H. The test for hydrogen There is a simple laboratory test to see if a gas is hydrogen. This is because the flame ignites the hydrogen. This is the general word equation for the reaction: metal + acid → salt + hydrogen Salts The salt produced depends upon the metal and the acid.sodium hydrogen carbonate + hydrochloric acid → sodium chloride + water + carbon dioxide It would be very difficult to neutralise the acid in these reactions perfectly exactly. which burns explosively to make a loud sound. Acids and hydrogen All acids contain hydrogen atoms. . Here are two examples: zinc + sulphuric acid → zinc sulphate + hydrogen magnesium + hydrochloric acid → magnesium chloride + hydrogen It doesn't matter which metal or acid is used. Some acid or base would be left over. but you can tell they contain hydrogen from their chemical formulae.

Name of acid Chemical formula of acid hydrochloric acid HCl nitric acid HNO3 sulphuric acid H2SO4 carbonic acid H2CO3 phosphoric acid H3PO4 .