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Ions and Salts

A salt forms when an acid reacts with a base. Usually, if the acid and base are of relatively the same strength, a neutral salt will be produced. Consider the following acid-base reaction:

HA + BOH --> AB + H2O

HA is the acid
BOH is the base
AB is the salt
H2O is the water produced by the neutralization reaction

The net ionic equation for the above reaction can be written as follows:

H+ + OH--> H2O

The bystander ions, which are A- and B+ form the salt and they have little tendency to react with water. However, most of the time, salts are not neutral and form either acidic or basic salts, depending on the relative strengths of the reacting acid-base pair. A salt formed between a strong acid and a weak base is an acidic salt:

HCl + NH3 --> NH4Cl

NH4Cl is the acidic salt.

A salt formed between a weak acid and a strong base is a basic salt:

CH3COOH + NaOH --> NaCH3COO + H

NaCH3COO is the basic salt.

Thus, understanding the overall role ions and salts play is fundamental for predicting the outcome of an acid-base reaction.

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