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Chemistry LibreTexts

21.2: Properties of Bases

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  • Perhaps you have eaten too much pizza and felt very uncomfortable hours later. This feeling is due to excess stomach acid being produced. The discomfort can be dealt with by taking an antacid. The base in the antacid will react with the \(\ce{HCl}\) in the stomach and neutralize it, taking care of that unpleasant feeling.


    Bases have properties that mostly contrast with those of acids.

    1. Aqueous solutions of bases are also electrolytes. Bases can be either strong or weak, just as acids can.
    2. Bases often have a bitter taste and are found in foods less frequently than acids. Many bases, like soaps, are slippery to the touch.
    3. Bases also change the color of indicators. Litmus turns blue in the presence of a base while phenolphthalein turns pink.
    4. Bases do not react with metals in the way that acids do.
    5. Bases react with acids to produce a salt and water.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Phenolphthalein indicator in presence of base.

    Please note that tasting chemicals and touching them are NOT good lab practices and should be avoided - in other words, don't do this at home.

    Bases are less common as foods, but they are nonetheless present in many household products. Many cleaners contain ammonia, a base. Sodium hydroxide is found in drain cleaner. Antacids, which combat excess stomach acid, are comprised of bases such as magnesium hydroxide or sodium hydrogen carbonate.


    • The properties of bases are listed.

    Contributors and Attributions

    • CK-12 Foundation by Sharon Bewick, Richard Parsons, Therese Forsythe, Shonna Robinson, and Jean Dupon.