Neutralization reactions are common in acid-base chemistry, and involve the combination of an acid with a base to form a pH neutral solution. Elmhurst College defines a neutralization reaction as one that combines an acid and a base to form water and a salt. The University of Memphis points out that neutralization reactions involve spectator ions, which do not participate in the chemical reaction but remain inert in the solution. These ions will bond when water is removed to form common salts.
The reactants in any neutralization reaction are an acid and a base. An acid is commonly defined to be a substance that readily gives up a hydrogen nucleus, a proton, when dissolved in an aqueous solution. A base is a substance that accepts a proton under the same conditions. When equal ratios of an equally concentrated acid and a base are mixed, protons transfer between them to form a neutral solution.
Acids are usually ionic molecules with one or more hydrogen (H) atoms bound to a strongly electronegative nonmetal, such as chlorine (Cl). Bases are typically ionic substances featuring a metal like sodium (Na) bonded to a hydroxide (OH) ion. When immersed in deionized water both acids and bases tend to break apart, isolating hydrogen ions in the acid and hydroxide ions in the base. The positive hydrogen ions hold a strong attraction to the negative hydroxide ions, and they merge together to form water.
Once the acid has lost its hydrogen ion and the hydroxide base has shed its metal component and accepted the hydrogen ion to form water, the remaining companion ions from the products have only one another to be attracted to. The remaining ion of the starting acid carries a negative charge and the ion of the starting base carries a positive charge, so they feel an attraction toward each another. They combine to form a salt, such as sodium chloride (NaCl)
Balanced Equation for a Neutralization Reaction
In the case of the strong acid hydrogen chloride (HCl) combined with the strong base sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in a neutralization reaction, the balanced equation for this reaction is HCl+NaOH----->H(2)O + NaCl The reactants in a neutralization reaction are a strong acid and a strong base and the products are water and a dissolved salt. In effect, by mixing these two dangerous substances together in the proper ratios we can obtain simple salt water.