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what are acids and bases and how they are useful in our daily life? what are their properties

what are acids and bases and how they are useful in our daily life? what are their properties


1 Answers

Harishwar IIT Roorkee
askIITians Faculty 50 Points
6 years ago
Hi Student,
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Uses in our daily life;



As its name suggests, citric acid is found in citrus fruits—particularly lemons, limes, and grapefruits. It is also used as a flavoring agent, preservative, and cleaning agent. Produced commercially from the fermentation of sugar by several species of mold, citric acid creates a taste that is both tart and sweet. The tartness, of course, is a function of its acidity, or a manifestation of the fact that it produces hydrogen ions. The sweetness is a more complex biochemical issue relating to the ways that citric acid molecules fit into the tongue's "sweet" receptors.

Citric acid plays a role in one famous stomach remedy, or antacid. This in itself is interesting, since antacids are more generally associated with alkaline substances, used for their ability to neutralize stomach acid. The fizz in Alka-Seltzer, however, comes from the reaction of citric acids (which also provide a more pleasant taste) with sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, a base. This reaction produces carbon dioxide gas. As a preservative, citric acid prevents metal ions from reacting with, and thus hastening the degradation of, fats in foods. It is also used in the production of hair rinses and low-pH shampoos and toothpastes.

The carboxylic acid family of hydrocarbon derivatives includes a wide array of substances—not only citric acids, but amino acids. Amino acids combine to make up proteins, one of the principal components in human muscles, skin, and hair. Carboxylic acids are also applied industrially, particularly in the use of fatty acids for making soaps, detergents, and shampoos.


There are plenty of acids found in the human body, including hydrochloric acid or stomach acid—which, in large quantities, causes indigestion, and the need for neutralization with a base. Nature also produces acids that are toxic to humans, such as sulfuric acid.

Though direct exposure to sulfuric acid is extremely dangerous, the substance has numerous applications. Not only is it used in car batteries, but sulfuric acid is also a significant component in the production of fertilizers. On the other hand, sulfuric acid is damaging to the environment when it appears in the form of acid rain. Among the impurities in coal is sulfur, and this results in the production of sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide when the coal is burned. Sulfur trioxide reacts with water in the air, creating sulfuric acid and thus acid rain, which can endanger plant and animal life, as well as corrode metals and building materials.


The alkali metal and alkaline earth metal families of elements are, as their name suggests, bases. A number of substances created by the reaction of these metals with nonmetallic elements are taken internally for the purpose of settling gastric trouble or clearing intestinal blockage. For instance, there is magnesium sulfate, better known as Epsom salts, which provide a powerful laxative also used for ridding the body of poisons.

Aluminum hydroxide is an interesting base, because it has a wide number of applications, including its use in antacids. As such, it reacts with and neutralizes stomach acid, and for that reason is found in commercial antacids such as Di-Gel™, Gelusil™, and Maalox™. Aluminum hydroxide is also used in water purification, in dyeing garments, and in the production of certain kinds of glass. A close relative, aluminum hydroxychloride or Al 2 (OH) 5 Cl, appears in many commercial antiperspirants, and helps to close pores, thus stopping the flow of perspiration.


Baking soda, known by chemists both as sodium bicarbonate and sodium hydrogen carbonate, is another example of a base with multiple purposes. As noted earlier, it is used in Alka-Seltzer™, with the addition of citric acid to improve the flavor; in fact, baking soda alone can perform the function of an antacid, but the taste is rather unpleasant.

Baking soda is also used in fighting fires, because at high temperatures it turns into carbon dioxide, which smothers flames by obstructing the flow of oxygen to the fire. Of course, baking soda is also used in baking, when it is combined with a weak acid to make baking powder. The reaction of the acid and the baking soda produces carbon dioxide, which causes dough and batters to rise. In a refrigerator or cabinet, baking soda can absorb unpleasant odors, and additionally, it can be applied as a cleaning product.


Another base used for cleaning is sodium hydroxide, known commonly as lye or caustic soda. Unlike baking soda, however, it is not to be taken internally, because it is highly damaging to human tissue—particularly the eyes. Lye appears in drain cleaners, such as Drano™, and oven cleaners, such as Easy-Off™, which make use of its ability to convert fats to water-soluble soap.

In the process of doing so, however, relatively large amounts of lye may generate enough heat to boil the water in a drain, causing the water to shoot upward. For this reason, it is not advisable to stand near a drain being treated with lye. In a closed oven, this is not a danger, of course; and after the cleaning process is complete, the converted fats (now in the form of soap) can be dissolved and wiped off with a sponge.

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