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Students are often confused when starting to study acids and bases, by the multiple definitions and duplicate definitions of acidity (K(a)) and basicity (K(b)). Let me attempt to shed some light.   The element hydrogen is frequently found in substances, but never as an atom. It's always bonded, either to itself (as H2), or to some other element, either in a binary covalent (e.g. H2S), more complex molecule (e.g. C6H12O6).   Such molecules are often quite stable, but sometimes and under the right conditions the hydrogen can come off as a proton, immediately donated to whatever solvent molecule(s) surround the dissociating molecule. We call the original molecule an acid, and we say the molecule has dissociated. This process is rapidly reversible; that hydrogen ion or any other can go back onto the remaining molecule fragment, which we call a conjugate base.    The reaction for an acid dissociation is therefore:   Reactant1(initial... read more

Students are often confused when starting to study acids and bases, by the multiple definitions and duplicate definitions of acidity (K(a)) and basicity (K(b)). Let me attempt to shed some light.   The element hydrogen is frequently found in substances, but never as an atom. It's always bonded, either to itself (as H2), or to some other element, either in a binary covalent (e.g. H2S), more complex molecule (e.g. C6H12O6).   Such molecules are often quite stable, but sometimes and under the right conditions the hydrogen can come off as a proton, immediately donated to whatever solvent molecule(s) surround the dissociating molecule. We call the original molecule an acid, and we say the molecule has dissociated. This process is rapidly reversible; that hydrogen ion or any other can go back onto the remaining molecule fragment, which we call a conjugate base. The proportion of time that the proton in question spends on its original molecule, vs. the time... read more

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