Acids and Alkalis - Neutralisation Reactions

How do acids and alkalis react?

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What are Neutralisation Reactions?

Neutralisation reactions occur when acids and bases are combined, this produces predictable results when you understand the general formula. Additionally, it helps to understand what acids and bases are. Bases react to produce salts and water when they meet with acids. Metal oxides and hydroxides are bases and some are also alkalis which are a subsection of bases that dissolve in water. Sodium hydroxide for example is soluble and is a base that makes it an alkali. Acids are chemicals that contain hydrogen and release these hydrogen ions when they react with water. Hydrochloric acid contains hydrogen and chlorine, these dissociate when reacting with water as described by the following equation: 

HCl (aq) → H⁺(aq) + Cl⁻(aq)

The above reaction demonstrates the action of acids breaking down into their components when in water. The state symbols (aq) after the hydrogen and chlorine ions show that they are dissolved in water. Bases can also be shown using these equations, just like the reaction between magnesium oxide and sulfuric acid to produce magnesium sulfate and water:

MgO (s) + H₂SO₄ (aq) → MgSO₄ (aq) + H₂O (l)

The name of the compound produced by acids reacting with metal oxides and hydroxides depends on the type of base and type of acid. The first part of the name is always the metal and then the second part comes from the acid. If the acid was sulfuric, the salt would be a sulfate. If the acid was hydrochloric, the salt would be chloride and so on. 

There are many more interesting things to learn about acids, bases and neutralisation reactions. We recommend you start here with our Acids and Alkalis – The Basics Quiz.

What name is given to a reaction in which hydroxide ions react with hydrogen ions to produce water?

This reaction is called a neutralisation reaction, it occurs when positive hydrogen ions react with hydroxide ions to produce water. Aqueous hydrogen ions (H⁺) are acidic and aqueous hydroxide ions (OH⁻) are basic. When mixed they become neutral or pH 7, making water (H₂O)


hydroxide and hydrogen neutralisation

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