Acids by Evette Taylor

At the simplest definition, an acid is any compound that yields hydrogen ions (H+) or hydronium ions (H3O+) when dissolved in water. Hydronium ions are really the combination of H+ ions and H2O molecules, i.e.
H+ + H2O === H3O+.

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Properties of Acids
  • taste sour (don't taste them!)... the word 'acid' comes from the Latin acere, which means 'sour'
  • acids change litmus (a blue vegetable dye) from blue to red
  • their aqueous (water) solutions conduct electric current (are electrolytes)
  • react with bases to form salts and water
  • evolve hydrogen gas (H2) upon reaction with an active metal (such as alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, zinc, aluminum)
Examples of Common Acids
  • citric acid (from certain fruits and veggies, notably citrus fruits)
  • ascorbic acid (vitamin C, as from certain fruits)
  • vinegar (5% acetic acid)
  • carbonic acid (for carbonation of soft drinks)
  • lactic acid (in buttermilk


  1. Beiser, A. (1988). Physical Science (2nd Edition). New York, NY: McGraw Hill
  2. (Ref #2 - from internet)
  3. (Ref #3 - from book, library, journal)

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Acids and Bases Definitions

Introduction to Key Terms & Concepts

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., Guide