Chemistry Essentials for Dummies

Chapter 11. Acids and Bases

In This Chapter

· Discovering the properties of acids and bases

· Finding out about the acid-base theory

· Differentiating between strong and weak acids and bases

· Understanding indicators

· Taking a look at the pH scale

Walk into any kitchen or bathroom, and you find a multitude of acids and bases. Open the refrigerator, and you find soft drinks full of carbonic acid. In the pantry, you find vinegar and baking soda, an acid and a base. Peek under the sink, and you notice the ammonia and other cleaners, most of which are bases. Check out that can of lye-based drain opener — it’s highly basic. In the medicine cabinet, you find aspirin, an acid, and antacids of all types. Your everyday world is full of acids and bases — and so is the everyday world of the industrial chemist. In this chapter, I cover acids and bases, indicators and pH, and some good basic chemistry.

Observing Properties of Acids and Bases

Table 11-1 lists the properties of acids and bases that you can observe in the world around you.

Table 11-1. Properties of Acids and Bases




Taste (but remember: in the lab, you test, not taste!)



Feel on the skin

Produces a painful sensation

Feels slippery


Reacts with certain metals (magnesium, zinc, and iron) to produce hydrogen gas

Reacts with limestone and baking soda to produce carbon dioxide

Reacts with oils and greases

React with acids to produce a salt and water

Reaction with litmus paper

Turns the paper red

Turns the paper blue