There is no conservation law for acids/bases, right?

  1. Simfish

    Simfish 827
    Gold Member

    For some reason, I've thought that there is some conservation law for acids and bases. Acids neutralize bases when added to bases, and as such, I've always thought that the pH of all possible acids/bases in the universe must add up to 7. But maybe this isn't right. After all - you don't need to neutralize acids with bases. Acids are just hydrogen ions, strictly speaking, and as such, you can neutralize acids without using up bases (and as such, you can have more acids than bases in the universe). Is this reasoning correct? And if so, does the universe have more of one than the other?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    No such law. To make things more complicated, neutral is not necessarilly 7... See water ion product page for explanation.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2008
  4. Not to my knowledge there isn't, I may be wrong though. Come to think of it there is probably more acids than bases, for example amino acids. They just seem to occur more commonly in nature than bases.
     
  5. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Amino acids are amphoteric (they have both acidic and basic "ends") so they are not necesarilly good example.
     
  6. GCT

    GCT 1,769
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hydrogen is not equated with acid you need to consider Lewis acid and Lewis bases.

    The "Conservation" merely pertains to a system - the system of the human body has a certain pH range for example. However there is no universal law that I know of.
     
  7. chemisttree

    chemisttree 3,721
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Imagine a universe containing only hydrogen gas, chlorine gas and oxygen gas. Before a spark there is no appropriate definition of pH. After a spark (and some burning) you have HCl and H2O which most people would say is acidic. If you add nitrogen to the mix you could also have NH3 and ammonium chloride, for example. In that case the ultimate pH is a reflection of the initial concentration of the elements and the extent of reaction. Some parts of the universe might not burn or be in chemical contact with other parts of the universe... the pH could vary spatially throughout the universe. That's a simple description of the state of our universe now.
     
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