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CHEMISTR

ACIDS
AND
BASES
Acids
and
Bases,twoclassesofchemical
compounds that display generally opposite
characteristics. Acids taste sour, turn litmus (a
pink dye derived from lichens) red, and often
react with some metals to produce hydrogen
gas. Bases taste bitter, turn litmus blue, and
feel slippery. When aqueous (water) solutions of
an acid and a base are combined, a
neutralization reaction occurs. This reaction is
characteristically very rapid and generally
produces water and a salt. For example, sulfuric
acid and sodium hydroxide, NaOH, yield water
and sodium sulfate: H2SO4 + 2NaOH2H2O +

ACIDS AND BASES

Modernunderstandingof acids and bases began with the


discovery in 1834 by the English physicist Michael Faraday that
acids, bases, and salts are electrolytes. That is, when they are
dissolved in water, they produce a solution that contains
charged particles, or ions, and can conduct an electric current
Ionization.
In 1884 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (and later
Wilhelm Ostwald, a German chemist) proposed that an acid be
defined as a hydrogen-containing compound that, when
dissolved in water, produces a concentration of hydrogen ions,
or protons, greater than that of pure water. Similarly, Arrhenius
proposed that a base be defined as a substance that, when
dissolved in water, produces an excess of hydroxyl ions, OH-. The
neutralization reaction then becomes: H+ + OH-H2O.
Anumberofcriticisms of the Arrhenius-Ostwald theory have
been made. First, acids are restricted to hydrogen-containing
species and bases to hydroxyl-containing species. Second, the
theory applies to aqueous solutions exclusively, whereas many

ACIDS AND BASES

Modernunderstandingof acids and bases began with the


discovery in 1834 by the English physicist Michael Faraday that
acids, bases, and salts are electrolytes. That is, when they are
dissolved in water, they produce a solution that contains
charged particles, or ions, and can conduct an electric current
Ionization.
In 1884 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (and later
Wilhelm Ostwald, a German chemist) proposed that an acid be
defined as a hydrogen-containing compound that, when
dissolved in water, produces a concentration of hydrogen ions,
or protons, greater than that of pure water. Similarly, Arrhenius
proposed that a base be defined as a substance that, when
dissolved in water, produces an excess of hydroxyl ions, OH-. The
neutralization reaction then becomes: H+ + OH-H2O.
Anumberofcriticisms of the Arrhenius-Ostwald theory have
been made. First, acids are restricted to hydrogen-containing
species and bases to hydroxyl-containing species. Second, the
theory applies to aqueous solutions exclusively, whereas many