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Properties of Bases

Introduces bases and some of their common characteristics.

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Properties of Bases

Milk of magnesia can be used to help relieve acid indigestions

Have you ever had acid indigestion?

Perhaps you have eaten too much pizza and felt very uncomfortable hours later. This feeling is due to excess stomach acid being produced. The discomfort can be dealt with by taking an antacid. The base in the antacid will react with the HCl in the stomach and neutralize it, taking care of that unpleasant feeling.


Bases have properties that mostly contrast with those of acids.

  1. Aqueous solutions of bases are also electrolytes. Bases can be either strong or weak, just as acids can.
  2. Bases often have a bitter taste and are found in foods less frequently than acids. Many bases, like soaps, are slippery to the touch.
  3. Bases also change the color of indicators. Litmus turns blue in the presence of a base while phenolphthalein turns pink.
  4. Bases do not react with metals in the way that acids do.
  5. Bases react with acids to produce a salt and water.

Phenolphthalein turns pink in basic solutions

Phenolphthalein indicator in presence of base.

Please note that tasting chemicals and touching them are NOT good lab practices and should be avoided – in other words, don’t do this at home.

Bases are less common as foods, but they are nonetheless present in many household products. Many cleaners contain ammonia, a base. Sodium hydroxide is found in drain cleaner. Antacids , which combat excess stomach acid, are comprised of bases such as magnesium hydroxide or sodium hydrogen carbonate.


  • The properties of bases are listed.



Read the material at the site below and answer the following questions:


  1. What does the reaction between an acid and a base produce?
  2. What is this reaction called?
  3. What does the reaction of a base with an ammonium salt form?



  1. Are bases electrolytes?
  2. What color does a base turn phenolphthalein?
  3. Do bases react with metals the same way that acids do?

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