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Name: Anna
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: HI
Country: N/A
Date: March 2006

Question:
The textbook says that baking soda is a salt and that salts are always neutral, but don't we always use baking soda as a base? I am so confused.



Replies:
Anna,

The chemical composition of baking soda is NaHCO3. You can imagine that this could have been produced by the acid-base reaction of the base, Na2CO3, with some acid, H+. As such we can consider NaHCO3 a salt (by the definition that the product of an acid and a base is a salt). However, since NaHCO3 can still react with another H+ to give H2CO3, then by the definition that anything that reacts with an acid must be a base, then NaHCO3 can be considered a base.

In the end, all these definitions are not as important as your understanding that salts are the product of acid-base reactions, and that a base (or an acid) is not to be defined by its chemical composition but rather in how it reacts or what it reacts with.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius)



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