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Acids, Bases & Salts

             In everyday life we deal with many compounds that chemists classify as acids. For example, orange juice and grapefruit juice contain citric acid. These juices, and others, also contain ascorbic acid, a substance more commonly known as Vitamin C. Salads are often flavored with vinegar, which contains dilute acetic acid. Boric acid is a substance that is sometimes used to wash the eyes.
             In any chemistry laboratory, we find acids such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid. These acids are called mineral acids because they can be prepared from naturally occurring compounds called minerals. Mineral acids are generally stronger than household acids, and should be handled with great care because they can burn skin and clothing.
             Properties of Acids:.
             Acids taste sour. Citric acid is responsible for the sour taste of lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges. Acetic acid is responsible for the sour taste of vinegar.
             Acids turn litmus (or indicator papers) red. Litmus is a vegetable dye that may be either red or blue, depending on the acidity. When a sample of an acid is placed on red litmus paper, the color of the litmus does not change. Red litmus has been previously treated with acid. Adding more acid does not change the red color. However, when the same acid is placed on blue litmus paper, the color turns from blue to red. (Blue litmus has been treated with a base).
             Acids contain combined hydrogen. When a sample of zinc, a fairly reactive metal, is dropped into a test tube containing an acid such as hydrochloric acid, a reaction occurs. The bubbling in the tube indicates that a gas is released. When we test this gas by inserting a burning splint into the test tube, the gas burst into flame and produces a small popping sound. This is the characteristic test for hydrogen gas. In general, when certain acids react with metals, hydrogen gas is released. See following reactions:.
             Zn (s) + 2HCl (aq) à H2 (g) + ZnCl2 (aq).

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