The newsLINK Group - Acids, Bases, and pH

Editorial Library Category: Mining Topics: Acids, Bases, pH Title: Acids, Bases, and pH Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: As plants grow, they need dirt, sun, water, and air. The dirt has nutrients that the plant puts to work as it grows and develops. If you want good plants, therefore, you have to give it what it needs: the right amount of sun and water, the right temperatures, not too much wind, and good dirt to grow in. Editorial: Acids, Bases, and pH 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 As plants grow, they need dirt, sun, water, and air. The dirt has nutrients that the plant puts to work as it grows and develops. If you want good plants, therefore, you have to give it what it needs: the right amount of sun and water, the right temperatures, not too much wind, and good dirt to grow in. Farmers need to take care of the dirt on a regular basis by giving it what it needs so it can continue to grow food. One of the things farmers look for in their dirt is whether it has too much acid or too much alkali in it. They also try to find plants that are well-suited to the kind of dirt they’ve got. For example: Some plants need more acid in the dirt or they will die: blueberries, hydrangeas, and rhododendron are each an example of plants that like acid. Some acid-loving vegetables are parsley, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, and rhubarb. In addition to blueberries, other fruits that need acidic dirt are cranberries, currants, elderberries, and gooseberries. Some plants need alkalinity: maple, lilac, geranium, and daisy are examples. When it comes to vegetables, beets, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, and celery can all grow in alkaline dirt. For fruit, think cherries and apricots, apple, banana, blackberry and raspberry, kiwi, pear, olive, pineapple, plum, and pomegranate. Hydrogen ions are what determine whether something is acidic or alkaline. The molecular formula for water is H 2 O, which means that two hydrogen atoms are connected to one oxygen atom. Sometimes a water molecule will lose one of its hydrogen atoms. It becomes a hydroxyl ion. The formula for a hydroxyl ion is OH–. Sometimes that lost hydrogen atom gets attached to another water molecule. It becomes a hydronium ion. The formula for a hydronium ion is H3O+. To make things a little simpler, chemists also call hydronium ions hydrogen ions. The formula for a hydrogen ion is H+. What is an ion? It is one or more atoms that has either lost an electron or gained an electron. If an atom is neutral, it has a one-to-one relationship between electrons and protons: the number of electrons is equal to the number of protons. If an ion has an extra electron or has lost an electron, that means the number of electrons isn’t the same as the number of protons, so it will have either a positive or a negative electric charge. Chemists call an ion with a positive electric charge a cation. They call an ion with a negative electric charge an anion. By the way, although the word “alkali” and the word “base” mean the same thing, chemists currently prefer the term “base.” As long as all these hydroxyl ions and hydrogen ions are in water, there are as many of one kind of ion as there are of the other. Water is neutral, because it has an equal number of both kinds of ion. It is not acidic, and it is not alkaline. But if you mix the water with either an acid or a base, the resulting solution is not going to be neutral anymore. The way it changes depends on what you mixed in with the water. If you add an acid then the solution will be acidic, and if you add a base, then the solution will be alkaline. This is because: The acid adds more hydrogen ions. That is one way to say that it donates a hydrogen ion (H+) to another compound. The base combines with hydrogen ions, which makes extra hydroxyl ions. The hydroxyl ions outnumber the hydrogen ions. If you touch a base, it is usually a little slippery, like soap. If you were to taste it, it would taste bitter. Mixing it with acid causes a chemical reaction. You end up with salts and water. The word “acid” is from a Latin word, “acidus” or “acere,” and it aptly means sour. Orange juice, lemons, and limes are all a little acidic. How do chemists and other people measure how acidic or basic something is? They measure its pH. The symbol for pH

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