Acids And Alkalis
What Are Acids?

You may be familiar with the term acid before, and you may have heard something called acidic. And while you can get a general idea of what these terms mean, it helps to understand what these terms mean scientifically.

Think of drinks like lemonade or orange juice. Think about the delicious taste you get while sipping any of these drinks. This flavor is the direct result of these acidic drinks. Every substance in the universe is made up of millions of tiny atoms, molecules, and ions. When a large number of them are hydrogen ions, the substance is acidic. In food, this means it will have a sour or pungent taste. However, many things other than food can also be acidic.

What Are Bases (Alkalis)?

A daily example of a base is baking soda, which is commonly used to bake cakes, cookies, and other sweet treats. If you taste it, you will find it very bitter. If you rub it between your fingers, you will find that it has an odd, soap-like feel. This is all because baking soda has alkali-like properties.

making the indicator
What Is the pH Scale?

pH stands for the power of hydrogen., and it measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution as 10 raised to - x (10-x). The lower the value of x, the higher the value of 10-x , hence, greater the concentration of hydrogen ions. High concentrations of hydrogen ions (protons) create acidic substances. That is why, of the 14 diff erent possible score values on the scale, a substance is acidic if its pH is low (between 0 and 7.0). Therefore, a substance is basic if it has a pH between 7 and 14, where 14 is the most basic. If a substance has a pH of exactly 7, it is neutral. Pure water is a neutral substance.

It is useful to keep in mind that the pH scale is logarithmic, not linear, which means that the diff erence of H+ concentrations between pH 2 and 3 is not the same as the diff erence between 12 and 13. Usually, natural substances tend to be weak acids and bases, with a pH that is close to 7. This is, however, not always the case, an exception being our stomach’s gastric acids.

What Is an Indicator?

Some foods are more basic or more acidic, and you can tell by tasting them. For example, lemon juice is obviously sour and fragrant, which helps us realize that it must be sour. On the other hand, baking soda has a bitter taste and it is easily recognized that it is more basic.

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But what about things that are not food, or those that are strongly acidic or basic? After all, many diff erent substances in nature are acidic or basic in nature. Logically, we can't taste every diff erent thing to find where they fit on the pH scale. So how do you test them?

We use an indicator to test for acids and bases. An indicator is a substance that tells us whether the item is more acidic or basic. There are a lot of natural indicators that we can use to determine the pH of a substance. Sunflowers and turmeric are great examples of natural indicators.

Of all these natural indicators, the one we use most often in the laboratory is the blue sunflower. It is a material derived from lichen, a plant that grows along walls, tree trunks or rock crevices. Litmus paper has a natural purple color but may change color. When it comes in contact with an acidic substance, it turns red. When a basic solution comes in contact with it, it turns blue. Due to this unique property, sunflowers are a practical indicator.

Where Do We Find Acids and Bases in Nature?

Acids and bases are everywhere around us in our daily life. Many plants have acidic or basic leaves, stems, roots, and flowers. Many fruits and vegetables are acidic or basic like azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, white potatoes and conifer trees , and even mundane things like soda and milk fall somewhere on the pH scale.

Even inside our body there are many acidic and basic substances. Having acids in our stomach helps with digestion and our muscles produce acid when we exercise. Our pancreas is basic and also helps in the digestive process. All these diff erent acids and bases work together in our body to make everything work smoothly.

The Red Cabbage pH Test

Red cabbage is ideal for home experiments.

Take a plate and put a few drops of cabbage juice on this surface. Take an acid, like lemon juice, and a base, like baking soda, and add small amounts to diff erent parts of your cabbage juice sample

As a result, the water will change color and look like magic in the process. There you have a live explanation of bases and acids . Try this with several diff erent products in the house. Try guessing whether they’re acidic or basic. The results may surprise you!