Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Body Buffer Action

Name: Sitwat
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Pakistan
Date: Spring 2012

If we eat or drink something that is acidic in nature,then to neutralize its effect can we eat or drink that is basic in nature? what will be its effect on humans and animals? I know it is a thing for which an experiment is necessary only then we can conclude some idea but what does your mind say about this?

In this case, will base and acid react to form salt and water in an organism's body? this rises one more question that if this reaction occurs, the salt concentration may also increase in the body, will it be suitable for that organism...

Hi Sitwat,

What you propose does in fact happen. When temporary acidic buildup occurs in the stomach, the person feels “heartburn”. They remedy that by taking antacids, usually a calcium containing weak base. The result is formation of a salt and water. Heartburn goes away, humans tolerate this very well.

Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D. Milford, NH

Fluids in both the stomach (on the acid side) and the small intestine (on the basic side) are highly buffered. Consequently, ingesting either acids or bases is highly resistant to changes in the pH. In cases where the these mechanisms are suspected to not be functioning properly due to some malfunction the pH can be monitored by swallowing a very small pH probe. The salt formed by the buffered solution is resistant to changes in pH, because the entire body can metabolize salts very rapidly. This is not to say that you cannot eat large quantities of acid, base or salts that will overwhelm these buffering mechanism, but you have to ingest a large quantity of these substances to pose a serious health risk.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the General Topics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory