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In chemistry, an alkali is an aqueous (from water) solution with a pH value of more than seven. The word 'Alkali' comes from the Arabic 'qali' meaning 'from the ashes' since ashes mixed with water used as cleaning products (such as soaps) are made of alkali materials
- It feels soapy
- It is corrosive (it can burn your skin away)
- The higher the number is over 7 on the pH scale the stronger the alkali is.
- Highly soluble (can be dissolved) in water
- They have a bitter taste
- Turns red litmus paper blue
- Can conduct electricity due to the presence of mobile ions
- Is blue or purple on universal indicator
Strength of an Alkali
Someone can find out how strong or weak an alkali is by adding universal indicator to it. Some universal indicators can be poured into alkalis and some are soaked into paper, and the paper is touched to the alkali.
Examples of common Alkalis
- Sodium hydroxide, NaOH
- Potassium hydroxide, KOH
- Calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2
- Aqueous ammonia, NH3 (aq)
Uses of common Alkalis
- Sodium hydroxide is used to make paper, detergents and soap.
- Potassium hydroxide is used in farming to make acidic soil more alkaline so that plants will grow better in it.
- Calcium carbonate is used as a building material.
- Magnesium hydroxide is used to help with stomach aches or indigestion. It makes the contents of a stomach less acidic.
Oxides and Hydroxides
Metal oxides and metal hydroxides are two types of base. When neutralised (an acid is added) they produce a salt and water. The type of salt produced depends on the acid and base.