OpenStax Chemistry 2e
Hydronium and hydroxide ions are present both in pure water and in all aqueous solutions, and their concentrations are inversely proportional as determined by the ion product of water (Kw). The concentrations of these ions in a solution are often critical determinants of the solution’s properties and the chemical behaviors of its other solutes, and specific vocabulary has been developed to describe these concentrations in relative terms. A solution is neutral if it contains equal concentrations of hydronium and hydroxide ions; acidic if it contains a greater concentration of hydronium ions than hydroxide ions; and basic if it contains a lesser concentration of hydronium ions than hydroxide ions.
A common means of expressing quantities that may span many orders of magnitude is to use a logarithmic scale. One such scale that is very popular for chemical concentrations and equilibrium constants is based on the p-function, defined as shown where “X” is the quantity of interest and “log” is the base-10 logarithm:
The pH of a solution is therefore defined as shown here, where [H3O+] is the molar concentration of hydronium ion in the solution:
Rearranging this equation to isolate the hydronium ion molarity yields the equivalent expression:
Likewise, the hydroxide ion molarity may be expressed as a p-function, or pOH:
Finally, the relation between these two ion concentration expressed as p-functions is easily derived from the Kw expression:
At 25 °C, the value of Kw is 1.0 ×× 10−14, and so:
Summary of Relations for Acidic, Basic and Neutral Solutions
|Classification||Relative Ion Concentrations||pH at 25 °C|
|acidic||[H3O+] > [OH−]||pH < 7|
|neutral||[H3O+] = [OH−]||pH = 7|
|basic||[H3O+] < [OH−]||pH > 7|
The acidity of a solution is typically assessed experimentally by measurement of its pH. The pOH of a solution is not usually measured, as it is easily calculated from an experimentally determined pH value. The pH of a solution can be directly measured using a pH meter (Figure 2).
The pH of a solution may also be visually estimated using colored indicators (Figure 3).
Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e
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