Self-Ionization of Water
Self-Ionization of Water: Water can act as both an acid and base in an ionization reaction. Water molecules will spontaneously split apart into H+ and OH- ions in liquid water
Cdang, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
"Strong" and "Weak"
Acids and Bases
A strong acid or base is one that dissociates completely when placed in water whereas a weak acid or base is one that does NOT completely dissociate when placed in water.
- This is why strong acids are much more likely to cause burns compared with a weak acid.
- The burns associated with acids are the results of the H+ ions, not the undissociated form of the acid.
- The HCl molecules itself is not dangerous, the high quantity of H+ ions created by HCl is the dangerous part.
Acid/Base Dissociation Constant
While it is nice to categorize acids as strong or weak, we need a more specific way to compare the strengths of acids and bases because it is not very accurate. For example, this is like saying there is a professional baseball player and a non-professional baseball player. Obviously, there is a wide range of skill levels among non-professionals. The same goes for acids and bases. To be more accurate, we use the acid/base dissociation constants. Watch the following video to learn more.