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what does pH mean - Simplified

What does pH mean?

ThepH value represents a fluid's acidity or alkalinity level - by indicating its concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) and therefore its potential for attracting more Hydrogen ions.

pH values of fluids range from 0 to 14

(very strong to very weak acids or bases/alkalis)

Note: A solution with a pH of 0 has no ability to attract hydrogen ions.

The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 and is logarithmic - which means that each step is ten times higher that the previous. (E.g. pH of 4.3 is 10 times more acid than 5.3, and 100 times more acidic than 6.3)

–   pH = –log (H+ conc.) On the logarithmic scale the difference between each pH number is a factor of 10.A pH of 5 means 10-5 (i.e. 1/105 ) g/L of H* ions. i.e. 10 x more acidic than a pH of 6 (10-6 g/L)

The STRENGTH of an acid or base is determined by how fast and how much of it dissociates into ions – E.g. A strong acid will have lots of H+ ions, a weak acid not so many.

–   Ionization occurs when molecules are “pulled”apart in solution, creating negative and positive ions -E.g. Water (H2O or HOH) is usually very weakly ionized, but certain substances can "pull" at the water to separate it into electrically charged H+ and OH- ions (When these ions are in equal proportions, the pH is a neutral 7). Most organic acids are weak, but mineral acids (e.g. HCl) are much stronger.

–   An acid can be neutralized by adding an alkali



Contains more H+ ions than OH- ions;

Can donate protons


Accept electrons/negatively charged ions

Alkaline solution

Contains more OH- ions than H+ ions

Can accept protons


Donate electrons/negatively charged ions.

Proton - positively charged ion e.g. Hydrogen ion ( H+ );

Electrons /negatively charged ions – carry a negative charge e.g. hydroxyl ion (OH-)

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