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Acids, bases and salts

Acids have a pH of less than 7. Bases have a pH of more than 7. When bases are dissolved in water, they are known as alkalis. Salts are made when an acid reacts with a base, carbonate or metal. The name of the salt formed depends on the metal in the base and the acid used. For example, salts made using hydrochloric acid are called chlorides.

Acids and bases

Diagram of the PH scale

Diagram of pH scale and universal indicator colours


Substances with a pHpH: Scale of acidity/alkalinity. pH below 7 = acidic, pH above 7 = alkaline of less than 7 are acidsacid: A corrosive substance which has a pH lower than 7. Acidity is caused by a high concentration of hydrogen ions.. The more strongly acidic the solution, the lower its pH number. Acidic solutions turn blue litmus paper red. They turn universal indicator paper red if they are strongly acidic, and orange or yellow if they are weakly acidic.


Substances that can react with acids and neutraliseneutralisation: Neutralisation is the reaction between an acid and a base to form a salt plus water. them to make a saltsalt: A compound formed by neutralisation of an acid by a base (eg a metal oxide) - the result of hydrogen atoms in the acid being replaced by metal atoms or positive ions. Sodium chloride - common salt - is one such compound. and water are called basesbase: A substance with a pH higher than 7, and which has a high concentration of hydroxyl ions. Bases react with acids to form a salt and water (called neutralisation). Metal hydroxides, oxides and carbonates are all bases.. They are usually metal oxides or metal hydroxides. For example, copper oxide and sodium hydroxide are bases.


Bases that dissolve in water are called alkalis [alkali: A base which is soluble in water. ]. Copper oxide is not an alkali because it does not dissolve in water. Sodium hydroxide is an alkali because it does dissolve in water.

Alkaline solutions have a pH of more than 7. The stronger the alkali, the higher the pH number. Alkalis turn red litmus paper blue. They turn universal indicator paper dark blue or purple if they are strongly alkaline, and blue-green if they are weakly alkaline.

Neutral solutions

Neutral solutions have a pH of 7. They do not change the colour of litmus paper, but they turn universal indicator paper green. Water is neutral.

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