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Chapter 17 – Acids, bases and salts

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:


Have you ever tasted table salt or licked a slice of lime? The salty taste of the table salt, and the sour taste of the lime are quite distinct. The salty taste is a characteristic of salts, and the sour taste of acid. You can find acids, bases and salts in various forms in daily life as well. Let’s learn more about them in this chapter.

The term ‘acid’ is derived from a Latin word ‘acidus’, which means ‘sour’. The most common characteristic of acid is its sour taste. An acid is any substance that, when rendered in an aqueous solution, releases the ionizable hydronium ion (H3O+), turning the blue litmus paper red.

There are two ways in which acids are classified based on the source they are derived from.

Natural Acids are obtained from natural or organic sources, such as fruits and animal products, for example, lactic acid in milk products, citric acid in lemon and lime, oxalic acid in tomatoes, ascorbic acid in apples, etc.

Mineral Acids are the clinal acids derived from mineral sources. These acids are usually produced in the laboratory, for instance, Hydrochloric acid (HCl), Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4), Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4), etc.

There are two types of acids based on the strength of the acid. They are as follows:

Strong Acids are acids that completely ionise in water and produces hydrogen ions (H+) are called Strong Acids.

Weak Acids are the acids which only partially ionise in water, and produce a small amount of hydrogen ions (H+).

One of the most common characteristics of bases is its bitter taste and soapy feel. A base is any substance that, when rendered in an aqueous solution, releases hydroxyl ion(OH–). Bases turn the colour of red litmus paper to blue.

Water-soluble bases are also known as alkalis. The hydroxide of most of the alkali metals and alkaline earth metals are soluble in water.

For example: sodium hydroxide(NaOH), magnesium hydroxide(Mg(OH)2), calcium hydroxide(Ca(OH)2), among others. Alkalis are usually considered to be strong bases.

Salts can be defined as the ionic compounds which are produced after a neutralisation reaction between an acid and a base. Salts are essentially neutral compounds. Sodium chloride(NaCl), which is most commonly known as table salt or common salt, is an example of a salt. 

There are three types of salts, namely, neutral salts, basic salts and acidic salts.

Neutral Salts: Salts that are a result of a reaction between a strong acid and strong base are neutral in nature. They are called neutral salts. The pH value of neutral salts is equal to 7.

Examples: Sodium Chloride(NaCl), Potassium Chloride(KCl)

Acidic Salts: Salts that are produced because of a reaction between a strong acid and a weak base are called Acidic salts. The pH value of acidic salt is lower than 7. 

Examples: Ammonium Sulphate((NH4)2SO4), Ammonium Chloride(NH4)Cl)

When Sulphuric Acid reacts with Ammonium Hydroxide, it produces Ammonium Sulphate((NH4)2SO4) and water. This is a neutralisation reaction with a strong acid and a weak base.

Basic Salts: Salts that are produced because of a reaction between a weak acid and a strong base are called Basic Salts

Examples: Sodium Carbonate(Na2CO3), Sodium Acetate(NaCH3COO), etc.

When Carbonic acid reacts with Sodium Hydroxide, it forms a basic salt Sodium Carbonate(Na2CO3) and water. This is also an example of a neutralisation reaction.

We see neutralisation in everyday life in various places. Anywhere you see an acid mix with any base, neutralisation occurs and salt and water is formed. For example, acidic plague is formed in your oral cavity hence you brush everyday with a basic toothpaste  to get rid of this acidic plague that would otherwise result in tooth enamel decay. 

Natural Indicators Around Us

There are many types of natural indicators in the world. These help identify whether a solution is acidic or basic in nature. Some examples include red cabbage, turmeric, grape juice, turnip skin, curry powder, cherries, beetroots, onion, tomato, etc.

An acid reacts with a base to form salt and water. This process is called a neutralisation reaction.

Acid + Base → Salt + Water

Since, the reaction between the acid and the base neutralize each other ionically, this reaction is known as the Neutralisation reaction.


NaOH + HCl ——–> NaCl + H2O

When Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) reacts with Hydrochloric Acid(HCl), Sodium Hydroxide breaks into a sodium ion and a hydroxide ion, while the hydrochloric acid breaks into a hydrogen ion and a chloride ion.

Hydrogen ion and hydroxide ion combine together and form water, while the sodium ion and chloride ion combine together and form sodium chloride. The following are the two chemical equations in this case:

Strength of Acids and Bases

The strength of an acid or base can be indicated using an Universal Indicator, such as a pH strip. The pH values for acids, bases and neutral compounds have been listed below:

For water and other neutral solutions : pH= 7

For acidic solutions : pH < 7

For basic solution : pH > 7

Acids, bases and salts are the three most common types of compounds found in laboratories today. They have their differential properties that you can use to form newer compounds, or even as a catalyst. The strength of acids and bases vary depending on their capacity to ionise. 

In other words, the release of the H+ or the OH- ions in a water solution, respectively. However, salts are usually considered neutral compounds, as they are formed as a product of a neutralisation reaction. But this does not mean that there cannot be salts with a pH value higher or lower than 7.

1. What is the difference between acids, bases and salts?

Acids have a pH lower than 7, while bases have a pH higher than 7. Acids have a characteristic sour taste, while bases feel soapy and have a bitter taste. Acids and Bases react together to form salts, which are salty by nature and are nearly neutral.

2. What are  acids, bases and salts with examples?

An acid is any substance that dissociates in water to release hydrogen ions, for example: HCl, H3PO4, etc.. A base is a substance that dissociates in water to produce hydroxyl ions, for example: NaOH, Ca(OH)2, etc. Salts are the compounds formed when an acid and a base react, for example: NaCl, CaCl2, etc.

3. What are 5 examples of bases?

There are various examples of bases,  for instance, Calcium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Ammonium Hydroxide, Magnesium Hydroxide, etc..

4. What are the uses of acids, bases and salt?

Acids are corrosive in nature,  and can be used as a cleaning agent. Bases are used in soaps and detergents. Salt is used in seasoning(NaCl), among other multi-faceted uses. 

5. What are 3 common household bases?

There are many bases that we use in our everyday lives. A few common examples are; Soap, Shampoo, Detergent, among others.

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