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CHEM 132 Principles of Chemistry Lab II Montgomery



Principles of Chemistry Lab II Montgomery College, Rockville

Acids and Bases, pH, Buffers and Hydrolysis Introduction

Acids and Bases

Aqueous solutions of acids and bases are recognized as acidic or

basic because they contain

appreciable concentrations of either hydronium (H3O+) or hydroxide

(OH) ions. Hydronium ions are

produced from the reaction of covalent molecules like HCl with water.

H3O+ (aq) + Cl (aq) HCl (g) + H2O (l) Some bases are ionic
compounds that dissolve in water or react with it to produce aqueous

ions, for example:

NaOH (s) Na+ (aq) + OH (aq) BaO (s) + H2O (l) Ba2+ (aq) + 2OH
(aq) Other bases such as ammonia, NH3, and related amines produce
hydroxide ions when dissolved in water

by accepting a proton from the solvent H2O.

NH4+ (aq) + OH (aq) NH3 (g) + H2O (l) Acids and bases are classified
as either strong or weak. Strong acids or bases are those that are
completely or almost completely ionized in dilute aqueous solution. We
can easily calculate the

concentration of either H3O+ or OH ions in these solutions by

assuming that the acid or base is

completely dissociated into its constituent ions when it is dissolved in

water. For example, 0.10 M

hydrochloric acid is around 100% dissociated so the H3O+

concentration is 0.10 M.

In aqueous solution of weak acids and bases, the undissociated species

predominate and the

concentration of H3O+ or OH ions is small. For example, 0.10 M

acetic acid is almost 98.7%

undissociated so that the H3O+ concentration is 0.0013 M, or 1.3 10-3

M. CH3COOH (aq) + H2O (l) H3O+ (aq) + CH3COO (aq) 98.7%
unreacted Small amount 1 Principles of Chemistry Lab II Montgomery
College, Rockville The pH Scale

The pH scale was developed to express low concentrations of H3O+

without the inconvenience of using

decimal numbers and negative powers. We define pH in terms of the

molar concentration of H3O+ using

Equation 1.

pH = log [H3O+] (1) The H3O+ concentration and the pH have an

inverse logarithmic relationship; the higher the H3O+

concentration, the lower the pH. A change in pH of 1 unit results in a

10 change in [H3O+]. For example,
a solution with pH of 5.00 is 100 times more acidic than a solution with
a pH of 7.00. This means that a

0.1 M solution of a strong acid (completely ionized) such as HCl has a

lower pH value (pH = 1.0) than a

0.01 M solution of the same acid (pH = 2.0).

In aqueous solutions, there is also a relationship between the H3O+

concentration and the OH

concentration. To understand this relationship we must first understand

something about the nature of

water. Water self-ionizes to a very slight extent, as shown in the

following equation.

H3O+ (aq) + OH (aq) H2O (l) + H2O (l) In this reaction one molecule
of water acts as a Bronsted-Lowry acid (a proton donor) while the other

acts as a Bronsted-Lowry base (a proton acceptor). In absolutely pure

water the concentration of H3O+

and OH are exactly the same. For every water molecule that
dissociates, one hydronium and one

hydroxide ion are formed. In pure water at 25 C the concentration of

each ion is 1.0 107 M and the

pH of pure water is 7.0. Since the concentrations of H3O+ and OH are

equal, pure water is said to have a

neutral pH. The product of these two concentrations is known as Kw,

which is calculated in Equation 2.

Kw = [H3O+][OH] = 1.0 10-14 (2) Equation 2 holds for most any

aqueous solution. For aqueous solutions, if we know the concentration
H3O+, we can calculate the concentration of OH, and vice versa.

We can now define acidic and basic solutions in a more quantitative

manner. A solution is acidic if its

H3O+ concentration is greater than 1.0 10-7 M or it is has a pH which

is less than 7. In acidic solution,

the H3O+ concentration is greater than OH concentration. Conversely,

a solution is basic if its H3O+

concentration is less than 1.0 10-7 M or it is has a pH which is greater

than 7. In basic solutions, the OH

concentration is greater than the H3O+ concentration. 2 Principles of

Chemistry Lab II Montgomery College, Rockville Indicators

The pH of a solution can be measured precisely using a pH meter.

Frequently, however, we need only an

approximate pH value, which can be determined using a suitable acid-

base indicator. Indicators are

complex organic molecules which change color as they lose or gain a

hydrogen ion.

If we represent the acid form of the indicator as H:In, and the base form
of the indicator as :In, we can

write its reaction with a base :B or acid H:B as the following reversible

H:In (aq) + :B (aq) :In (aq) + H:B (aq) Acid form of indicator Base
Base form of

indicator acid Each indicator has its characteristic tendency to ionize;

therefore, its color change will occur over a
specific range of pH values. Table I shows some common indicators
with their color changes and the pH

ranges at which they occur.

Table I. Common Acid-Base Indicators


Methyl violet

Congo red



Alizarin Yellow R pH range of color


0 2.0

3.0 5.0

5.0 8.2

8.3 10.0

10.1 12.0 Color in acid Color in base Yellow




Yellow Violet



Red Hydrolysis

Weak acids are poorly ionized in aqueous solution; that is, they are poor
proton donors or BronstedLowry acids. Conversely, the bases formed
when weak acids dissociate (their conjugate bases) have

relatively strong affinity for protons and are comparatively strong

Bronsted-Lowry bases. Consider the

dissociation of H2CO3 below to produce the conjugate base HCO3.

Correspondingly, the conjugate acids formed when weak bases react
with H2O are relatively strong. For

example, consider dissolving HCl in water.

3 Principles of Chemistry Lab II Montgomery College, Rockville Since

HCl is a strong acid, Cl, its conjugate base, is weak. Further, since we
know HCl is strong and does

dissociate completely, it is a stronger acid than H3O+. Likewise, since

NH4+, the conjugate acid of NH3,

does in fact react with OH to produce NH3, NH4+ is a stronger acid

than H2O. Similarly, H3O+ is a stronger

acid than H2CO3. Table II lists some common acids and bases in order
of their relative acid and base strengths. This table

will aid you in your interpretation of the observations you will make in
the hydrolysis experiments. Table II. Relative strengths of acids and their
conjugate bases Strongest Weakest Acid











HPO42 Conjugate Base











PO43 4 Weakest Strongest Principles of Chemistry Lab II Montgomery

College, Rockville Buffers

The proper function of biochemical systems requires that the pH be

maintained within a few tenths of a

pH unit, yet many cellular reactions produce hydronium ions which

could radically alter the pH. Blood

normally has a pH of about 7.4; any significant variation can result in

death. Many chemical reactions

occurring in the laboratory or in industry also require careful control of

pH. The pH of a system can be

controlled by the use of a buffer. A buffer is a substance or combination

of substances capable of

consuming limited amounts of added H+ or OH, thereby preventing

significant changes in the pH of the


Consider one of the major buffers in blood, the carbonic

acid/bicarbonate ion system. Carbonic acid

(aqueous CO2) is a weak acid that ionizes as follows.

H3O+ (aq) + HCO3 (aq) H2CO3 (aq) + H2O (l) If we prepare a

solution containing both carbonic acid and bicarbonate ion (from
NaHCO3) at equal
concentrations, as shown below, we see that added OH simply reacts
with H2CO3.

H2CO3 (aq) + OH (l) H2O (aq) + HCO3 (aq) Similarly, added H+

reacts with HCO3.

HCO3 (aq) + H+ (l) H2O (aq) + H2CO3 (aq) Acid or base added to the
system is removed by reacting with one component of the buffer system,

converting it into the other buffer component. Thus, as long as we do not

exceed the buffering capacity

(which depends on the concentration of the buffer components), addition

of H+ or OH to the buffer

solution results in only very slight pH changes. Summary

In this experiment we will

Observe the conductivity of a series of acids and bases as a measure of

the degree of

dissociation and strength of the acid or base

Use indicators and a pH meter to estimate the pH of acidic and basic


Study the control of pH by means of buffers

Study pH changes that result from the hydrolysis of salts. 5 Principles of

Chemistry Lab II Montgomery College, Rockville Pre-laboratory
Questions (to be answered in order in blue or black in in the lab
notebook; due at the

beginning of lab)

1. You will work with 0.10 M acetic acid and 17 M acetic acid in this
experiment. What is the

relationship between concentration and ionization? Explain the reason

for this relationship.

2. Explain hydrolysis, i.e, what types of molecules undergo hydrolysis

(be specific) and show

equations for reactions of acid, base, and salt hydrolysis not used as
examples in the

introduction to this experiment.

3. In Part C: Hydrolysis of Salts, you will calibrate the pH probe prior to

testing the pH of the

various salts. In a few sentences, summarize and explain the necessity of

the calibration process.

Why is it necessary to work with three buffers?

4. You prepare a buffer by adding 10.0 mL of 0.10 M acetic acid and

10.0 mL of 0.10 M sodium

acetate. Calculate the pH that you expect for this buffer. Write the
chemical equation for the

equilibrium. Show your work using an ICE table.

5. To the solution from #4, you add 0.50 mL of 0.10 M HCl. Calculate
the new pH of the buffer
solution. Write the chemical equations for the reaction and the
equilibrium. Show your work

using an ICE table.

6. To the solution from #4, you add 0.50 mL of 0.10 M NaOH. Calculate
the new pH of the buffer

solution. Write the chemical equation for the equilibrium. Show your
work using an ICE table.

7. Beginning on a new page, create data tables in your lab notebook

using a straightedge to. Do

not submit the tables with your pre-lab questions, as you will record
your data in the tables

during lab.


You will be working in groups for this experiment. Someone in each

group will be required to submit a

photo I.D. in order to check out a Lab Quest unit and box containing the
cables, a conductivity probe,

and a pH probe. The lab Quest and other equipment is available from the
prep room. Your I.D. will be

returned when the Lab Quest unit and other equipment is returned to the
prep room at the end of the

lab session.