Naming salts

A salt is any compound formed by the neutralisation of an acid by a base.

The name of a salt has two parts. The first part comes from the metal, metal oxide or metal carbonate. The second part comes from the acid.

You can always work out the name of the salt by looking at the reactants:

  • nitric acid always produces salts that end in nitrate and contain the nitrate ion, NO3
  • hydrochloric acid always produces salts that end in chloride and contain the chloride ion, Cl
  • sulfuric acid always produces salts that end in sulfate and contain the sulfate ion, SO42–

For example, if potassium oxide reacts with sulfuric acid, the products will be potassium sulfate and water.

The table shows some more examples.

Sodium hydroxidereacts withHydrochloric acidto makeSodium chloride
Copper(II) oxidereacts withHydrochloric acidto make Copper(II) chloride
Sodium hydroxidereacts withSulfuric acidto makeSodium sulfate
Zinc oxidereacts withSulfuric acidto makeZinc sulfate
Sodium hydroxidereacts withNitric acidto makeSodium nitrate
Copper(II) carbonatereacts withNitric acidto makeCopper(II) nitrate
Ammonia forms ammonium salts when it reacts with acids. For instance, ammonia reacts with hydrochloric acid to make ammonium chloride.

To write the symbol equations for the reactions of acids with these four different bases, you will need to learn the formulae of common substances, and how to write formulae from ions, both of which are covered in The nature of substances and chemical reactions.