Strength of Acid and Base
Strength of acid shows the degree of dissociation of hydrogen ions. Similarly, strength of base shows the degree of dissociation of hydroxide itons.
Acids in which complete dissociation of hydrogen ion takes place are called strong acid. Similarly, bases in which complete dissociation of hydroxide ion takes place are called strong base.
In mineral acids, such as hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, etc. hydrogen ion dissociates completely and hence they are considered as strong acid. Since, in organic acids hydrogen ions do not dissociate completely, so they are weak acid.
Alkalis are water soluble base, thus in alkali, complete dissociation of hydroxide ions takes place and they are considered as strong base.
The complete dissociation of hydrogen ions or hydroxide ions is shown by a single arrow. The incomplete dissociation of hydrogen ions or hydroxide ions is denoted by double arrow.
Example of complete dissociation:
NaOH (aq) ⇨ Na+ + OH−
HCl ⇨ H+ + Cl−
Example of incomplete dissociation:
Mg(OH)2 >> Mg+ + + OH− −
CH3COOH >> CH3COO− + H+
Although acetic acid being an organic acid is a weak acid, but concentrated acetic acid is corrosive and can damage the skin if poured over it.
The strength of acid or base depends upon the hydrogen ion concentration. If the concentration of hydrogen ion is greater than hydroxide ion, the solution is called acidic. If the concentration of hydrogen ion is smaller than the hydroxide ion, the solution is called basic. If the concentration of hydrogen ion is equal to the concentration of hydroxide ion, the solution is called neutral solution.
pH is a scale which quantifies the concentration of hydrogen ion in a solution. The range of pH scale is between 0 to 14.
The pH value decreases with increase in hydrogen ion concentration.
- If the value of pH is 0, this shows maximum hydrogen ion concentration.
- pH value equal to 14 shows lowest hydrogen ion concentration.
- pH value equal to 7 shows the hydrogen ion concentration is equal to hydroxide ion concentration.
A neutral solution, such as distilled water has value of hydrogen ion concentration equal to 7 on pH scale. The acidic solution has value of hydrogen ion concentration less than 7 on pH scale. The basic solution has value of hydrogen ion concentration greater than 7 on pH scale.
In pH scale p stands for potenz. Potenz is a German word which means power or potential. Here, H stands for hydrogen ion. Thus, pH means the potential of hydrogen or power of hydrogen.
pH is defined as the decimal logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion activity (a(H+ )), in a solution.
Acid Base Indicators
Substances which show the acidic or basic behavior of other substance by change in colour are known as indicators.
Types of Indicators: There are many types of indicators. Some common types of indicators are
- Olfactory Indicator
- Synthetic Indicator
- Universal Indicator
Indicators obtained from natural sources are called natural indicators. Litmus, turmeric, red cabbage, China rose, etc. are some common natural indicators used widely to show the acidic or basic character of substances.
Litmus: Litmus is obtained from lichens. The solution of litmus is purple in colour. Litmus paper comes in two colour – blue and red.
- An acid turns blue litmus paper red.
- A base turns red litmus paper blue.
Turmeric: Turmeric is another natural indicator. Turmeric is yellow in colour. Turmeric solution or paper turns reddish brown with base. Turmeric does not change colour with acid.
Red cabbage: The juice of red cabbage is originally purple in colour. Juice of red cabbage turns reddish with acid and turns greenish with base.
Olfactory Indicators: Substances which change their smell when mixed with acid or base are known as olfactory indicators. For example onion, vanilla, clove, etc. Olfactory indicators are used to ensure the participation of visually impaired students in laboratory.
Onion: Paste or juice of onion loses its smell when added with base. It does not change its smell with acid.
Vanilla: The smell of vanilla vanishes with base, but it’s smell does not vanishes with an acid.
Indicators that are synthesized in laboratory are known as synthetic indicators. For example; phenolphthalein, methyl orange, etc.
Phenolphthalein is a colourless liquid. It remains colourless with acid but turns into pink with a base.
Methyl orange is originally orange in colour. It turns into red with acid and turns into yellow with base.
|Red litmus||Red||No change||Blue|
|Blue litmus||Blue||Red||No change|
|Turmeric||Yellow||No change||Reddish brown|
|Red cabbage juice||Purple||Reddish||Greenish yellow|
|Onion||n/a||No change||Smell vanishes|
|Vanilla||n/a||No change||Smell vanishes|
Using a litmus paper, phelophthalein, methyl orange, etc. only the acidic or basic character of a solution can be determined, but use of these indicators does not give the idea about the strength of acid or base. So, to get the strength as well as acidic and basic nature of a given solution universal indicator is used.
Universal indicator shows different colour over the range of pH value from 1 to 14 for a given solution. Universal indicator is available both in the form of strips and solution.
Universal indicator is the combination of many indicators, such as water, propanol, phelophthalein, sodium salt, sodium hydroxide, methyl red, bromothymol blue monosodium salt, and thymol blue monosodium salt. The colour matching chart is supplied with universal indicator which shows the different colours for different values of pH.