22 Classifying Chemical Reactions

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Define and recognize two common types of chemical reactions (acid-base, and oxidation-reduction)
  • Identify common acids and bases

Acid-Base Reactions

An acid-base reaction is one in which a hydrogen ion, H+, is transferred from one chemical species to another. Such reactions are of central importance to numerous natural and technological processes, ranging from the chemical transformations that take place within cells and the lakes and oceans, to the industrial-scale production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and other substances essential to society. The subject of acid-base chemistry, therefore, is worthy of thorough discussion, and a full chapter is devoted to this topic later in the text.

For purposes of this brief introduction, we will consider only the more common types of acid-base reactions that take place in aqueous solutions. In this context, an acid is a substance that will dissolve in water to yield hydronium ions, H3O+. As an example, consider the equation shown here:


The process represented by this equation confirms that hydrogen chloride is an acid. When dissolved in water, H3O+ ions are produced by a chemical reaction in which H+ ions are transferred from HCl molecules to H2O molecules ((Figure)).

When hydrogen chloride gas dissolves in water, (a) it reacts as an acid, transferring protons to water molecules to yield (b) hydronium ions (and solvated chloride ions).

This figure shows two flasks, labeled a and b. The flasks are both sealed with stoppers and are nearly three-quarters full of a liquid. Flask a is labeled H C l followed by g in parentheses. In the liquid there are approximately twenty space-filling molecular models composed of one red sphere and two smaller attached white spheres. The label H subscript 2 O followed by a q in parentheses is connected with a line to one of these models. In the space above the liquid in the flask, four space filling molecular models composed of one larger green sphere to which a smaller white sphere is bonded are shown. To one of these models, the label H C l followed by g in parentheses is attached with a line segment. An arrow is drawn from the space above the liquid pointing down into the liquid below. Flask b is labeled H subscript 3 O superscript positive sign followed by a q in parentheses. This is followed by a plus sign and C l superscript negative sign which is also followed by a q in parentheses. In this flask, no molecules are shown in the open space above the liquid. A label, C l superscript negative sign followed by a q in parentheses, is connected with a line segment to a green sphere. This sphere is surrounded by four molecules composed each of one red sphere and two white smaller spheres. A few of these same molecules appear separate from the green spheres in the liquid. A line segment connects one of them to the label H subscript 2 O which is followed by l in parentheses. There are a few molecules formed from one central larger red sphere to which three smaller white spheres are bonded. A line segment is drawn from one of these to the label H subscript 3 O superscript positive sign, followed by a q in parentheses.

The nature of HCl is such that its reaction with water as just described is essentially 100% efficient: Virtually every HCl molecule that dissolves in water will undergo this reaction. Acids that completely react in this fashion are called strong acids, and HCl is one among just a handful of common acid compounds that are classified as strong ((Figure)). A far greater number of compounds behave as weak acids and only partially react with water, leaving a large majority of dissolved molecules in their original form and generating a relatively small amount of hydronium ions. Weak acids are commonly encountered in nature, being the substances partly responsible for the tangy taste of citrus fruits, the stinging sensation of insect bites, and the unpleasant smells associated with body odor. A familiar example of a weak acid is acetic acid, the main ingredient in food vinegars:


When dissolved in water under typical conditions, only about 1% of acetic acid molecules are present in the ionized form, {\text{CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}{}^{-} ((Figure)). (The use of a double-arrow in the equation above denotes the partial reaction aspect of this process, a concept addressed fully in the chapters on chemical equilibrium.)

(a) Fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit contain the weak acid citric acid. (b) Vinegars contain the weak acid acetic acid. (credit a: modification of work by Scott Bauer; credit b: modification of work by Brücke-Osteuropa/Wikimedia Commons)

This figure contains two images, each with an associated structural formula provided in the lower left corner of the image. The first image is a photograph of a variety of thinly sliced, circular cross sections of citrus fruits ranging in color for green to yellow, to orange and reddish-orange. The slices are closely packed on a white background. The structural formula with this picture shows a central chain of five C atoms. The leftmost C atom has an O atom double bonded above and to the left and a singly bonded O atom below and to the left. This single bonded O atom has an H atom indicated in red on its left side which is highlighted in pink. The second C atom moving to the right has H atoms bonded above and below. The third C atom has a single bonded O atom above which has an H atom on its right. This third C atom has a C atom bonded below it which has an O atom double bonded below and to the left and a singly bonded O atom below and to the right. An H atom appears in red and is highlighted in pink to the right of the singly bonded O atom. The fourth C atom has H atoms bonded above and below. The fifth C atom is at the right end of the structure. It has an O atom double bonded above and to the right and a singly bonded O atom below and to the right. This single bonded O atom has a red H atom on its right side which is highlighted in pink. The second image is a photograph of bottles of vinegar. The bottles are labeled, “Balsamic Vinegar,” and appear to be clear and colorless. The liquid in this bottle appears to be brown. The structural formula that appears with this image shows a chain of two C atoms. The leftmost C atom has H atoms bonded above, below, and to the left. The C atom on the right has a doubly bonded O atom above and to the right and a singly bonded O atom below and to the right. This O atom has an H atom bonded to its right which is highlighted in pink.

Common Strong Acids
Compound Formula Name in Aqueous Solution
HBr hydrobromic acid
HCl hydrochloric acid
HI hydroiodic acid
HNO3 nitric acid
HClO4 perchloric acid
H2SO4 sulfuric acid

A base is a substance that will dissolve in water to yield hydroxide ions, OH. The most common bases are ionic compounds composed of alkali or alkaline earth metal cations (groups 1 and 2) combined with the hydroxide ion—for example, NaOH and Ca(OH)2. Unlike the acid compounds discussed previously, these compounds do not react chemically with water; instead they dissolve and dissociate, releasing hydroxide ions directly into the solution. For example, KOH and Ba(OH)2 dissolve in water and dissociate completely to produce cations (K+ and Ba2+, respectively) and hydroxide ions, OH. These bases, along with other hydroxides that completely dissociate in water, are considered strong bases.

Consider as an example the dissolution of lye (sodium hydroxide) in water:


This equation confirms that sodium hydroxide is a base. When dissolved in water, NaOH dissociates to yield Na+ and OH ions. This is also true for any other ionic compound containing hydroxide ions. Since the dissociation process is essentially complete when ionic compounds dissolve in water under typical conditions, NaOH and other ionic hydroxides are all classified as strong bases.

Unlike ionic hydroxides, some compounds produce hydroxide ions when dissolved by chemically reacting with water molecules. In all cases, these compounds react only partially and so are classified as weak bases. These types of compounds are also abundant in nature and important commodities in various technologies. For example, global production of the weak base ammonia is typically well over 100 metric tons annually, being widely used as an agricultural fertilizer, a raw material for chemical synthesis of other compounds, and an active ingredient in household cleaners ((Figure)). When dissolved in water, ammonia reacts partially to yield hydroxide ions, as shown here:


This is, by definition, an acid-base reaction, in this case involving the transfer of H+ ions from water molecules to ammonia molecules. Under typical conditions, only about 1% of the dissolved ammonia is present as {\text{NH}}_{4}{}^{+} ions.

Ammonia is a weak base used in a variety of applications. (a) Pure ammonia is commonly applied as an agricultural fertilizer. (b) Dilute solutions of ammonia are effective household cleansers. (credit a: modification of work by National Resources Conservation Service; credit b: modification of work by pat00139)

This photograph shows a large agricultural tractor in a field pulling a field sprayer and a large, white cylindrical tank which is labeled “Caution Ammonia.”

A neutralization reaction is a specific type of acid-base reaction in which the reactants are an acid and a base (but not water), and the products are often a salt and water


To illustrate a neutralization reaction, consider what happens when a typical antacid such as milk of magnesia (an aqueous suspension of solid Mg(OH)2) is ingested to ease symptoms associated with excess stomach acid (HCl):


Note that in addition to water, this reaction produces a salt, magnesium chloride.

Writing Equations for Acid-Base Reactions Write balanced chemical equations for the acid-base reactions described here:

(a) the weak acid hydrogen hypochlorite reacts with water

(b) a solution of barium hydroxide is neutralized with a solution of nitric acid

Solution (a) The two reactants are provided, HOCl and H2O. Since the substance is reported to be an acid, its reaction with water will involve the transfer of H+ from HOCl to H2O to generate hydronium ions, H3O+ and hypochlorite ions, OCl.


A double-arrow is appropriate in this equation because it indicates the HOCl is a weak acid that has not reacted completely.

(b) The two reactants are provided, Ba(OH)2 and HNO3. Since this is a neutralization reaction, the two products will be water and a salt composed of the cation of the ionic hydroxide (Ba2+) and the anion generated when the acid transfers its hydrogen ion \left({\text{NO}}_{3}{}^{\text{−}}\right).


Check Your Learning Write the net ionic equation representing the neutralization of any strong acid with an ionic hydroxide. (Hint: Consider the ions produced when a strong acid is dissolved in water.)



Stomach Antacids

Our stomachs contain a solution of roughly 0.03 M HCl, which helps us digest the food we eat. The burning sensation associated with heartburn is a result of the acid of the stomach leaking through the muscular valve at the top of the stomach into the lower reaches of the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is not protected from the corrosive effects of stomach acid the way the lining of the stomach is, and the results can be very painful. When we have heartburn, it feels better if we reduce the excess acid in the esophagus by taking an antacid. As you may have guessed, antacids are bases. One of the most common antacids is calcium carbonate, CaCO3. The reaction,


not only neutralizes stomach acid, it also produces CO2(g), which may result in a satisfying belch.

Milk of Magnesia is a suspension of the sparingly soluble base magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH)2. It works according to the reaction:


The hydroxide ions generated in this equilibrium then go on to react with the hydronium ions from the stomach acid, so that:


This reaction does not produce carbon dioxide, but magnesium-containing antacids can have a laxative effect. Several antacids have aluminum hydroxide, Al(OH)3, as an active ingredient. The aluminum hydroxide tends to cause constipation, and some antacids use aluminum hydroxide in concert with magnesium hydroxide to balance the side effects of the two substances.

Culinary Aspects of Chemistry

Examples of acid-base chemistry are abundant in the culinary world. One example is the use of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate in baking. NaHCO3 is a base. When it reacts with an acid such as lemon juice, buttermilk, or sour cream in a batter, bubbles of carbon dioxide gas are formed from decomposition of the resulting carbonic acid, and the batter “rises.” Baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, and one or more acid salts that react when the two chemicals come in contact with water in the batter.

Many people like to put lemon juice or vinegar, both of which are acids, on cooked fish ((Figure)). It turns out that fish have volatile amines (bases) in their systems, which are neutralized by the acids to yield involatile ammonium salts. This reduces the odor of the fish, and also adds a “sour” taste that we seem to enjoy.

A neutralization reaction takes place between citric acid in lemons or acetic acid in vinegar, and the bases in the flesh of fish.

An image is shown of two fish with heads removed and skin on with lemon slices placed in the body cavity. The first line of an equation below the image reads C H subscript 3 C O O H plus N H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 N H subscript 2 arrow C H subscript 3 C O O superscript negative sign plus N H subscript 3 superscript positive sign C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 C H subscript 2 N H subscript 2. The second line of the equation reads Acetic acid plus sign Putrescine arrow Acetate ion plus sign Putrescinium ion.

Pickling is a method used to preserve vegetables using a naturally produced acidic environment. The vegetable, such as a cucumber, is placed in a sealed jar submerged in a brine solution. The brine solution favors the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria. The beneficial bacteria feed on starches in the cucumber and produce lactic acid as a waste product in a process called fermentation. The lactic acid eventually increases the acidity of the brine to a level that kills any harmful bacteria, which require a basic environment. Without the harmful bacteria consuming the cucumbers they are able to last much longer than if they were unprotected. A byproduct of the pickling process changes the flavor of the vegetables with the acid making them taste sour.

Oxidation-Reduction Reactions

Earth’s atmosphere contains about 20% molecular oxygen, O2, a chemically reactive gas that plays an essential role in the metabolism of aerobic organisms and in many environmental processes that shape the world. The term oxidation was originally used to describe chemical reactions involving O2, but its meaning has evolved to refer to a broad and important reaction class known as oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions. A few examples of such reactions will be used to develop a clear picture of this classification.

Some redox reactions involve the transfer of electrons between reactant species to yield ionic products, such as the reaction between sodium and chlorine to yield sodium chloride:


It is helpful to view the process with regard to each individual reactant, that is, to represent the fate of each reactant in the form of an equation called a half-reaction:

\begin{array}{l}2\text{Na}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2{\text{Na}}^{\text{+}}\left(s\right)+2{\text{e}}^{-}\\ {\text{Cl}}_{2}\left(g\right)+2{\text{e}}^{-}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2{\text{Cl}}^{\text{−}}\left(s\right)\end{array}

These equations show that Na atoms lose electrons while Cl atoms (in the Cl2 molecule) gain electrons, the “s” subscripts for the resulting ions signifying they are present in the form of a solid ionic compound. For redox reactions of this sort, the loss and gain of electrons define the complementary processes that occur:

\begin{array}{lll}\hfill \mathbf{\text{oxidation}}& =& \text{loss of electrons}\hfill \\ \hfill \mathbf{\text{reduction}}& =& \text{gain of electrons}\hfill \end{array}

In this reaction, then, sodium is oxidized and chlorine undergoes reduction. Viewed from a more active perspective, sodium functions as a reducing agent (reductant), since it provides electrons to (or reduces) chlorine. Likewise, chlorine functions as an oxidizing agent (oxidant), as it effectively removes electrons from (oxidizes) sodium.

\begin{array}{lll}\hfill \mathbf{\text{reducing agent}}& =& \text{species that is oxidized}\hfill \\ \hfill \mathbf{\text{oxidizing agent}}& =& \text{species that is reduced}\hfill \end{array}

Some redox processes, however, do not involve the transfer of electrons. Consider, for example, a reaction similar to the one yielding NaCl:


The product of this reaction is a covalent compound, so transfer of electrons in the explicit sense is not involved. To clarify the similarity of this reaction to the previous one and permit an unambiguous definition of redox reactions, a property called oxidation number has been defined.

Chemistry End of Chapter Exercises

1. Use the following equations to answer the next four questions:

i. {\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

ii. {\text{Na}}^{\text{+}}\left(aq\right)+{\text{Cl}}^{\text{−}}\left(\text{aq}\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}+{\text{Ag}}^{\text{+}}\left(aq\right)+{\text{NO}}_{3}{}^{\text{−}}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{AgCl}\left(s\right)+{\text{Na}}^{\text{+}}\left(aq\right)+{\text{NO}}_{3}{}^{\text{−}}\left(aq\right)

iii. {\text{CH}}_{3}\text{OH}\left(g\right)+{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CO}}_{2}\left(g\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(g\right)

iv. 2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2{\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)+{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)

v. {\text{H}}^{\text{+}}\left(aq\right)+{\text{OH}}^{\text{−}}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

(a) Which equation describes a physical change?

(b) Which equation identifies the reactants and products of a combustion reaction?

(c) Which equation is not balanced?

(d) Which is a net ionic equation?


2. Indicate what type, or types, of reaction each of the following represents:

(a) \text{Ca}\left(s\right)+{\text{Br}}_{2}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CaBr}}_{2}\left(s\right)

(b) \text{Ca}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+2\text{HBr}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CaBr}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

(c) {\text{C}}_{6}{\text{H}}_{12}\left(l\right)+9{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}6{\text{CO}}_{2}\left(g\right)+6{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(g\right)

(a) oxidation-reduction (addition); (b) acid-base (neutralization); (c) oxidation-reduction (combustion)


3. Indicate what type, or types, of reaction each of the following represents:

(a) {\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(g\right)+\text{C}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{CO}\left(g\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)

(b) {\text{2KClO}}_{3}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2\text{KCl}\left(s\right)+3{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)

(c) \text{Al}{\text{(OH)}}_{3}\left(aq\right)+3\text{HCl}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{AlCl}}_{3}\left(aq\right)+3{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

(d) \text{Pb}{\left({\text{NO}}_{3}\right)}_{2}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}{\text{SO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{PbSO}}_{4}\left(s\right)+2{\text{HNO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)


4. Silver can be separated from gold because silver dissolves in nitric acid while gold does not. Is the dissolution of silver in nitric acid an acid-base reaction or an oxidation-reduction reaction? Explain your answer.

It is an oxidation-reduction reaction because the oxidation state of the silver changes during the reaction.


5. Classify the following as acid-base reactions or oxidation-reduction reactions:

(a) {\text{Na}}_{2}\text{S}\left(aq\right)+2\text{HCl}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2\text{NaCl}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)

(b) 2\text{Na}\left(s\right)+2\text{HCl}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2\text{NaCl}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)

(c) \text{Mg}\left(s\right)+{\text{Cl}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{MgCl}}_{2}\left(s\right)

(d) \text{MgO}\left(s\right)+2\text{HCl}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{MgCl}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

(e) {\text{K}}_{3}\text{P}\left(s\right)+2{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{K}}_{3}{\text{PO}}_{4}\left(s\right)

(f) 3\text{KOH}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{3}{\text{PO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{K}}_{3}{\text{PO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)+3{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)

(a) acid-base; (b) oxidation-reduction: Na is oxidized, H+ is reduced; (c) oxidation-reduction: Mg is oxidized, Cl2 is reduced; (d) acid-base; (e) oxidation-reduction: P3− is oxidized, O2 is reduced; (f) acid-base


6. Identify the atoms that are oxidized and reduced, the change in oxidation state for each, and the oxidizing and reducing agents in each of the following equations:

(a) \text{Mg}\left(s\right)+{\text{NiCl}}_{2}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{MgCl}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+\text{Ni}\left(s\right)

(b) {\text{PCl}}_{3}\left(l\right)+{\text{Cl}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{PCl}}_{5}\left(s\right)

(c) {\text{C}}_{2}{\text{H}}_{4}\left(g\right)+3{\text{O}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2{\text{CO}}_{2}\left(g\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(g\right)

(d) \text{Zn}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}{\text{SO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{ZnSO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)

(e) 2{\text{K}}_{2}{\text{S}}_{2}{\text{O}}_{3}\left(s\right)+{\text{I}}_{2}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{K}}_{2}{\text{S}}_{4}{\text{O}}_{6}\left(s\right)+2\text{KI}\left(s\right)

(f) 3\text{Cu}\left(s\right)+8{\text{HNO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}3\text{Cu}{\left({\text{NO}}_{3}\right)}_{2}\left(aq\right)+2\text{NO}\left(g\right)+4{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)


7. Complete and balance the following acid-base equations:

(a) HCl gas reacts with solid Ca(OH)2(s).

(b) A solution of Sr(OH)2 is added to a solution of HNO3.

(a) 2\text{HCl}\left(g\right)+\text{Ca}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CaCl}}_{2}\left(s\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right); (b) \text{Sr}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+2{\text{HNO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{Sr}{\left({\text{NO}}_{3}\right)}_{2}\left(aq\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)


8. Complete and balance the following acid-base equations:

(a) A solution of HClO4 is added to a solution of LiOH.

(b) Aqueous H2SO4 reacts with NaOH.

(c) Ba(OH)2 reacts with HF gas.


9. Complete and balance the equations for the following acid-base neutralization reactions. If water is used as a solvent, write the reactants and products as aqueous ions. In some cases, there may be more than one correct answer, depending on the amounts of reactants used.

(a) \text{Mg}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(s\right)+{\text{HClO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}

(b) {\text{SO}}_{3}\left(g\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\phantom{\rule{0.3em}{0ex}}\text{(assume an excess of water and that the product dissolves)}

(c) \text{SrO}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}{\text{SO}}_{4}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}

(a) \text{Mg}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(s\right)+2{\text{HClO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{Mg}}^{\text{2+}}\left(aq\right)+2{\text{ClO}}_{4}{}^{\text{−}}\left(aq\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right); (b) {\text{SO}}_{3}\left(g\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{H}}_{3}{\text{O}}^{\text{+}}\left(aq\right)+{\text{HSO}}_{4}{}^{\text{−}}\left(aq\right), (a solution of H2SO4); (c) \text{SrO}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}{\text{SO}}_{4}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{SrSO}}_{4}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}


10. When heated to 700–800 °C, diamonds, which are pure carbon, are oxidized by atmospheric oxygen. (They burn!) Write the balanced equation for this reaction.


11. The military has experimented with lasers that produce very intense light when fluorine combines explosively with hydrogen. What is the balanced equation for this reaction?



12. Write the molecular, total ionic, and net ionic equations for the following reactions:

(a) \text{Ca}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+{\text{HC}}_{2}{\text{H}}_{3}{\text{O}}_{2}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}

(b) {\text{H}}_{3}{\text{PO}}_{4}\left(aq\right)+{\text{CaCl}}_{2}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}


13. Great Lakes Chemical Company produces bromine, Br2, from bromide salts such as NaBr, in Arkansas brine by treating the brine with chlorine gas. Write a balanced equation for the reaction of NaBr with Cl2.



14. In a common experiment in the general chemistry laboratory, magnesium metal is heated in air to produce MgO. MgO is a white solid, but in these experiments it often looks gray, due to small amounts of Mg3N2, a compound formed as some of the magnesium reacts with nitrogen. Write a balanced equation for each reaction.


15. Lithium hydroxide may be used to absorb carbon dioxide in enclosed environments, such as manned spacecraft and submarines. Write an equation for the reaction that involves 2 mol of LiOH per 1 mol of CO2. (Hint: Water is one of the products.)



16. Calcium propionate is sometimes added to bread to retard spoilage. This compound can be prepared by the reaction of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, with propionic acid, C2H5CO2H, which has properties similar to those of acetic acid. Write the balanced equation for the formation of calcium propionate.


17. Complete and balance the equations of the following reactions, each of which could be used to remove hydrogen sulfide from natural gas:

(a) \text{Ca}{\left(\text{OH}\right)}_{2}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}

(b) {\text{Na}}_{2}{\text{CO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}

(a) \text{Ca}{\text{(OH)}}_{2}\left(s\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{CaS}\left(s\right)+2{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right); (b) {\text{Na}}_{2}{\text{CO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{Na}}_{2}\text{S}\left(aq\right)+{\text{CO}}_{2}\left(g\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{O}\left(l\right)


18. Copper(II) sulfide is oxidized by molecular oxygen to produce gaseous sulfur trioxide and solid copper(II) oxide. The gaseous product then reacts with liquid water to produce liquid hydrogen sulfate as the only product. Write the two equations which represent these reactions.


19. Write balanced chemical equations for the reactions used to prepare each of the following compounds from the given starting material(s). In some cases, additional reactants may be required.

(a) solid ammonium nitrate from gaseous molecular nitrogen via a two-step process (first reduce the nitrogen to ammonia, then neutralize the ammonia with an appropriate acid)

(b) gaseous hydrogen bromide from liquid molecular bromine via a one-step redox reaction

(c) gaseous H2S from solid Zn and S via a two-step process (first a redox reaction between the starting materials, then reaction of the product with a strong acid)

(a) step 1: {\text{N}}_{2}\left(g\right)+3{\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2{\text{NH}}_{3}\left(g\text{),} step 2: {\text{NH}}_{3}\left(g\right)+{\text{HNO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{NH}}_{4}{\text{NO}}_{3}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{NH}}_{4}{\text{NO}}_{3}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{(after drying);} (b) {\text{H}}_{2}\left(g\right)+{\text{Br}}_{2}\left(l\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}2\text{HBr}\left(g\text{);} (c) \text{Zn}\left(s\right)+\text{S}\left(s\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{ZnS}\left(s\right) and \text{ZnS}\left(s\right)+2\text{HCl}\left(aq\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}⟶\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{ZnCl}}_{2}\left(aq\right)+{\text{H}}_{2}\text{S}\left(g\right)


20. Calcium cyclamate Ca(C6H11NHSO3)2 is an artificial sweetener used in many countries around the world but is banned in the United States. It can be purified industrially by converting it to the barium salt through reaction of the acid C6H11NHSO3H with barium carbonate, treatment with sulfuric acid (barium sulfate is very insoluble), and then neutralization with calcium hydroxide. Write the balanced equations for these reactions.


  • 1The requirement of “charge balance” is just a specific type of “mass balance” in which the species in question are electrons. An equation must represent equal numbers of electrons on the reactant and product sides, and so both atoms and charges must be balanced.


substance that produces H3O+ when dissolved in water
acid-base reaction
reaction involving the transfer of a hydrogen ion between reactant species
substance that produces OH when dissolved in water
combustion reaction
vigorous redox reaction producing significant amounts of energy in the form of heat and, sometimes, light
an equation that shows whether each reactant loses or gains electrons in a reaction.
of relatively low solubility; dissolving only to a slight extent
neutralization reaction
reaction between an acid and a base to produce salt and water
process in which an element’s oxidation number is increased by loss of electrons
oxidation-reduction reaction
(also, redox reaction) reaction involving a change in oxidation number for one or more reactant elements
oxidation number
(also, oxidation state) the charge each atom of an element would have in a compound if the compound were ionic
oxidizing agent
(also, oxidant) substance that brings about the oxidation of another substance, and in the process becomes reduced
insoluble product that forms from reaction of soluble reactants
precipitation reaction
reaction that produces one or more insoluble products; when reactants are ionic compounds, sometimes called double-displacement or metathesis
process in which an element’s oxidation number is decreased by gain of electrons
reducing agent
(also, reductant) substance that brings about the reduction of another substance, and in the process becomes oxidized
ionic compound that can be formed by the reaction of an acid with a base that contains a cation and an anion other than hydroxide or oxide
single-displacement reaction
(also, replacement) redox reaction involving the oxidation of an elemental substance by an ionic species
of relatively high solubility; dissolving to a relatively large extent
the extent to which a substance may be dissolved in water, or any solvent
strong acid
acid that reacts completely when dissolved in water to yield hydronium ions
strong base
base that reacts completely when dissolved in water to yield hydroxide ions
weak acid
acid that reacts only to a slight extent when dissolved in water to yield hydronium ions
weak base
base that reacts only to a slight extent when dissolved in water to yield hydroxide ions


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Chemistry and the Environment by OSCRiceUniversity/DevinRLatimer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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