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Alkali vs. Acid: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Alkalis are substances that form hydroxide ions (OH⁻) in solution and have a pH above 7, while acids are substances that release hydrogen ions (H⁺) in solution and have a pH below 7.
Alkali vs. Acid

Key Differences

Alkalis are basic compounds, typically forming hydroxide ions (OH⁻) when dissolved in water, resulting in a pH greater than 7. Acids, in contrast, are compounds that dissociate in water to release hydrogen ions (H⁺), leading to a pH less than 7.
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The nature of alkalis is such that they can neutralize acids, often resulting in the formation of a salt and water, a process known as neutralization. Acids, on the other hand, can neutralize bases or alkalis, undergoing the same neutralization reaction but from the opposite perspective.
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Common examples of alkalis include sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, which are often used in cleaning products and industrial processes. Acids include substances like hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, known for their corrosive properties and wide use in industry.
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Alkalis typically feel slippery and can be corrosive to skin and materials, similar to strong acids, but they are characterized by their ability to turn red litmus paper blue. Acids, conversely, have a sour taste and turn blue litmus paper red.
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In terms of chemical structure, alkalis often consist of a metal ion and a hydroxide ion, whereas acids are generally composed of hydrogen atoms and a nonmetal or complex ion.
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Comparison Chart

Ion Formation

Forms hydroxide ions (OH⁻)
Releases hydrogen ions (H⁺)
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PH Range

Above 7 (basic)
Below 7 (acidic)
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Neutralization

Neutralizes acids, forming salt and water
Neutralizes bases/alkalis, forming salt and water
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Common Examples

Sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide
Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid
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Litmus Paper Test

Turns red litmus paper blue
Turns blue litmus paper red
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Alkali and Acid Definitions

Alkali

They are characterized by a slippery feel and can be corrosive.
The alkali felt slippery when touched with gloves.
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Acid

They often have a sour taste and can be corrosive.
The acid corroded the metal surface quickly.
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Alkali

Alkalis turn red litmus paper blue.
In our experiment, the solution turned the red litmus paper blue, indicating it was an alkali.
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Acid

Common acids include hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid.
Hydrochloric acid is commonly used in industrial cleaning processes.
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Alkali

An alkali is a substance that forms hydroxide ions in water and has a basic pH.
Sodium hydroxide is a strong alkali used in soap making.
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Acid

Any of a class of substances whose aqueous solutions are characterized by a sour taste, the ability to turn blue litmus red, and the ability to react with bases and certain metals to form salts.
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Alkali

Alkalis are soluble bases that neutralize acids.
The alkali neutralized the acid, forming water and a salt.
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Acid

A substance that yields hydrogen ions when dissolved in water.
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Alkali

They are commonly found in cleaning agents and detergents.
Many household cleaners contain alkali substances for effective cleaning.
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Acid

A substance that can act as a proton donor.
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Alkali

A carbonate or hydroxide of an alkali metal, the aqueous solution of which is bitter, slippery, caustic, and characteristically basic in reactions.
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Acid

A substance that can accept a pair of electrons to form a covalent bond.
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Alkali

Any of various soluble mineral salts found in natural water and arid soils.
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Acid

A substance having a sour taste.
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Alkali

Alkali metal.
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Acid

The quality of being sarcastic, bitter, or scornful
Wrote with acid about her first marriage.
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Alkali

A substance having highly basic properties; a strong base.
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Acid

(Slang) See LSD1.
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Alkali

(chemistry) One of a class of caustic bases, such as soda, soda ash, caustic soda, potash, ammonia, and lithia, whose distinguishing characteristics are dissolving in alcohol and water, uniting with oils and fats to form soap, neutralizing and forming salts with acids, turning to brown several vegetable yellows, and changing reddened litmus to blue.
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Acid

Of, relating to, or containing an acid.
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Alkali

(Western United States) Soluble mineral matter, other than common salt, contained in soils of natural waters.
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Acid

Having a high concentration of acid.
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Alkali

Soda ash; caustic soda, caustic potash, etc.
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Acid

Having the characteristics of an acid.
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Alkali

One of a class of caustic bases, such as soda, potash, ammonia, and lithia, whose distinguishing peculiarities are solubility in alcohol and water, uniting with oils and fats to form soap, neutralizing and forming salts with acids, turning to brown several vegetable yellows, and changing reddened litmus to blue.
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Acid

Having a pH of less than 7.
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Alkali

Soluble mineral matter, other than common salt, contained in soils of natural waters.
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Acid

Having a relatively high concentration of hydrogen ions.
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Alkali

Any of various water-soluble compounds capable of turning litmus blue and reacting with an acid to form a salt and water;
Bases include oxides and hydroxides of metals and ammonia
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Acid

(Geology) Containing a large proportion of silica
Acid rocks.
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Alkali

A mixture of soluble salts found in arid soils and some bodies of water; detrimental to agriculture
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Acid

Having a sour taste.
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Acid

Biting, sarcastic, or scornful
An acid wit.
An acid tone of voice.
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Acid

Sour, sharp, or biting to the taste; tart; having the taste of vinegar.
Acid fruits or liquors
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Acid

(figuratively) Sour-tempered.
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Acid

Of or pertaining to an acid; acidic.
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Acid

(music) Denoting a musical genre that is a distortion (as if hallucinogenic) of an existing genre, as in acid house, acid jazz, acid rock.
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Acid

A sour substance.
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Acid

(chemistry)
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Acid

Any compound which yields H+ ions (protons) when dissolved in water; an Arrhenius acid.
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Acid

Any compound that easily donates protons to a base; a Brønsted acid.
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Acid

Any compound that can accept a pair of electrons to form a covalent bond; a Lewis acid.
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Acid

Any corrosive substance.
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Acid

LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide.
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Acid

Sour, sharp, or biting to the taste; tart; having the taste of vinegar: as, acid fruits or liquors. Also fig.: Sour-tempered.
He was stern and his face as acid as ever.
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Acid

Of or pertaining to an acid; as, acid reaction.
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Acid

A sour substance.
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Acid

One of a class of compounds, generally but not always distinguished by their sour taste, solubility in water, and reddening of vegetable blue or violet colors. They are also characterized by the power of destroying the distinctive properties of alkalies or bases, combining with them to form salts, at the same time losing their own peculiar properties. They all contain hydrogen, united with a more negative element or radical, either alone, or more generally with oxygen, and take their names from this negative element or radical. Those which contain no oxygen are sometimes called hydracids in distinction from the others which are called oxygen acids or oxacids.
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Acid

Any of various water-soluble compounds having a sour taste and capable of turning litmus red and reacting with a base to form a salt
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Acid

Street name for lysergic acid diethylamide
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Acid

Harsh or corrosive in tone;
An acerbic tone piercing otherwise flowery prose
A barrage of acid comments
Her acrid remarks make her many enemies
Bitter words
Blistering criticism
Caustic jokes about political assassination, talk-show hosts and medical ethics
A sulfurous denunciation
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Acid

Containing acid;
An acid taste
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Acid

Acids are substances that release hydrogen ions in solution and have an acidic pH.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which gives it its sour taste.
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Acid

Acids react with bases to neutralize them, forming salt and water.
The acid reacted with the base to form water and a salt.
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Acid

Acids turn blue litmus paper red.
In the lab, the blue litmus paper turned red upon contact with the acid.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What defines an acid?

A compound that releases hydrogen ions in solution and is acidic.
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How do alkalis react with indicators?

They turn red litmus paper blue.
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What is an alkali?

A substance that produces hydroxide ions in water and is basic.
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What effect do acids have on litmus paper?

They turn blue litmus paper red.
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Can alkalis neutralize acids?

Yes, they can neutralize acids, forming salt and water.
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Do acids have a characteristic taste?

Yes, acids typically have a sour taste.
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What is a common use of acids?

In industrial cleaning and as a food additive for sourness.
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What are examples of alkalis?

Sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.
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Are alkalis corrosive?

Strong alkalis can be corrosive to skin and materials.
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Are alkalis harmful to the environment?

In high concentrations, they can be harmful to aquatic life.
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Do acids react with metals?

Yes, many acids react with metals, releasing hydrogen gas.
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Can acids be neutralized?

Yes, by reacting them with bases or alkalis.
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What is the pH range of alkalis?

Above 7, indicating basicity.
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What pH range do acids fall under?

Below 7, indicating acidity.
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What safety precautions are needed for acids?

Proper handling and storage due to their corrosive nature.
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How are alkalis used in daily life?

In cleaning agents, soaps, and detergents.
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Is it safe to touch alkalis?

Caution is needed as strong alkalis can burn the skin.
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Can acids be found in food?

Yes, like citric acid in citrus fruits and acetic acid in vinegar.
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What happens when an acid reacts with a carbonate?

It produces carbon dioxide, water, and a salt.
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Are alkalis and acids used in agriculture?

Yes, for adjusting soil pH and as nutrients in fertilizers.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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