Acids and Bases

Defining Acids and Bases

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Content Contributors
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Adi Manocha

Learning Objectives

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The Arrhenius Theory
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  • Acids ionise in aqueous solutions to produce H+ ions

  • Hydrogen ions (H+) will combine with water (H2O) to form hydronium (H3O+) this is because free protons are unstable in water, so they quickly combine with water particles to for hydronium ions.

  • Bases dissociate in aqueous solutions to produce OH- ions

  • Neutralisation occurs when H+ reacts with OH- to form H2O


  • The Arrhenious Theory is limited because it only applies to interactions in aqueous solutions (acids and bases dissolved in water) 

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The Brønsted-Lowry Theory
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  • Acids are "proton donors" (they donate H+ ions)

  • Bases are "proton acceptors" (they accept H+ ions)


  • Both acids and bases exist in conjugate pairs

  • Once an acid has donated a proton (H+ ion), it has the potential to accept a proton (effectively acting as a base). This is a conjugate base.

  • The same applies to bases (when a base accepts a proton, it becomes a conjugate acid with the potential to act as an acid by donating a proton)

  • “Conjugate Pairs” are 2 chemical species that differ only by a H+ ion

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Davy's Theory
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Davy’s Acids are substances which contain a H+ ion that can be replaced by a reactive metal

Davy’s Bases are substances which react with acids to form a salt and water

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Properties of Acids and Bases
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Defining Acids and Bases
Classifying Acids and Bases
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