Mixing Acids with Bases

What happens chemically when acids and bases are mixed?  If general the two cancel each other out and you end up with salts and water!  What happens chemically when you mix acids with bases?  You can get strange smells and hot solutions, and some can be dangerous, so be careful.  They should always be mixed slowly with the acid being added to the base.

This process is known in the scientific world as neutralization.  If everything is in balance, the pH of the solution becomes 7.  An acid has a pH below 7 and a base has a pH above 7.

Acids got their name because they taste sour and they release hydrogen when in solution.  There are several common acids such as hydrochloric acid (found your stomach), acetic acid (found in cow’s stomach as well as the kitchen, known as vinegar), and phosphoric acid (soft drinks) and sulfuric acid (car batteries).  Acids are common.

Bases have excess hydroxides and are also found in nature.  They can include baking soda and most of your antacids found at the pharmacy!  There are also several common household cleaning supplies such as window cleaner, bleach, and ammonia.  It is important to note that by mixing some of these, you can produce some toxic compounds, such as chlorine gas from bleach and ammonia!

The excess hydrogen and excess hydroxide combine to form the water and then the other elements combine.  For instance if you mix hydrochloric acid with sodium hydroxide and the two are in equal quantities and molarity, the produce water and sodium chloride.  Ironically enough, one cannot visible see them difference as the sodium chloride is dissociated and dissolved in the water.

Interestingly enough, heat can also be produced and so can gases, especially if the acids and bases are very strong, added to quickly or no salts are available to be made.  The reaction is sometimes exothermic, which means heat is releases.  The gases can be excess hydrogen, which is explosive in the presence of a flame or it can be like mixing vinegar and acetic acid, which produces carbonic acid that breaks up readily and forms carbon dioxide.

Mix the acids with the bases and see what results, but do it carefully, in a well ventilated area and, unless you know exactly what you are doing, do not tryto drink or taste the resulting compounds!