Unit 5: Acids-Bases and Salts

Unit 5: Acids-Bases and Salts: Uncover information on acids, bases and salts. With this detailed guide, you’ll know the differences between them and the properties you need to memorize for Chemistry class!

Chemistry class can be confusing if you don’t understand the fundamentals of acids, bases, and salts. In this unit, you will learn how to distinguish between them and discover the properties that make each one unique. With this information, you’ll have an easier time understanding how they interact with each other in Chemistry experiments!

What is an Acid?
An acid is a chemical compound which can release hydrogen ions (H) when in water. The higher the concentration of H+ ions, the greater the acidity and the lower pH of a substance. Acids react with metals, bases, and other acids to form salts, with some acids also capable of dissolving certain materials such as steel or tissue paper.

What is a Base?
A base, also known as an alkali, is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions in a chemical reaction. Common bases such as baking soda contain hydroxide ( OH) ions which neutralize acids when dissolved in water. Bases also turn red litmus paper blue and are commonly found in soaps because they create a slippery feeling when dissolved in water.

What is a Salt?
A salt is any ionic compound made up of a cation (positively charged ion) and an anion (negatively charged ion). Common table salt, sodium chloride, is formed when the cations sodium and chloride come together. Most salts are not very soluble in water, meaning that they do not dissolve easily. Salts are insoluble in organic solvents and have distinct qualities such as color, taste and smell.

Learn About Reactions Among Acids and Bases
The most basic reaction between acids and bases is known as neutralization. When an acid and a base come into contact with each other, they form a salt and water. This reaction occurs because the positive hydrogen ions in the acid bind to the negative hydroxide ions of the base, forming a neutral salt molecule and releasing the water molecules that were produced from the reactants. This process of neutralization is important for a variety of applications in chemistry, especially in reactions involving pH control.

How the pH Scale Reflects Acidity or Basics of Substance
The pH scale is a universal measure of how acidic or basic a substance is. This scale ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral (neither acidic nor basic). Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is considered basic. Acids are typically ranked by their pH values, with the strongest acids registering as having the lowest pH values. Strong bases also have low pH values, usually around 1-2. Weak acids and bases tend to have higher pH values between 4 and 8. Understanding the acidity or basicity of a substance can be essential in controlling the environment in which reactions take place.

This Unit 5: Acids-Bases and Salts covers the following topics:

The pH scale

Indicators (litmus, universal, phenolphthalein) for acid and base reactions.

Conductivity of solutions

Concentrated and dilute acids and bases, strong and weak acids and bases


Read other units here.

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