The problem statement, all variables and given/known data I am working on a correspondence grade 12 Chemistry Course and I am confused by one question. I did an experiment involving hydrochloric acid (HCl) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Here is the question: "In a reaction, Na+ ions are separated from OH- ions, a process of dissociation that absorbs energy, yet, in the end, heat was liberated by the overall process. Explain." This has been asked before on this forum but there was not really a clear answer posted so I thought perhaps we could discuss it again. Here is the archived thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-77030.html The attempt at a solution So I understand that, since the reaction was exothermic, something other than the breaking of the NaOH bonds must have occurred which took less energy and thus released the excess energy in the form of heat. I do not quite understand what happened that would have taken so much less energy. Would the following be a correct and reasonable answer: "The reorganization and formation of water took much less energy and resulted in heat being released." ?