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Properties of Bases

Defines what a base is and discusses their common characteristics.

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Basic Cleaning

Basic Cleaning

Credit: Cara Fealy Choate
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carabou/146530613/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Wow! You can really see a lot better through a clean window than a dirty one. Cleaning products such as window cleaners often contain strong chemicals. They have to in order to remove all that dirt.

News You Can Use

  • Many cleaning products, including window cleaners, contain ammonia. Ammonia is a substance called a base.
  • Bases are the opposite of acids. They have a slippery feel.
  • Think “bar of soap” and you’ll know how bases feel, because soap is also basic.
  • Credit: Ross Elliott
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ross_elliott/5064720453/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Soaps are relatively weak bases [Figure2]

  • Why do bases make good cleaners? Chemical reactions explain it. Watch this video to learn how: http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn/chemistry-now/chemistry-of-household-cleaners

Show What You Know

With the links below, learn more about ammonia and bases. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is ammonia? What are its chemical formula and properties?
  2. Explain why water alone doesn’t work well to clean up greasy dirt.
  3. What are acids and bases according to the Brønsted-Lowry definition? What are protons?
  4. How does adding ammonia to water help it clean up grease?
  5. If you wash windows with soapy water, the soap leaves a streaky residue on the window after the water evaporates. Washing windows with ammonia and water leaves no streaks. Explain why.
  6. Besides cleaning, what are some other uses of ammonia?

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Cara Fealy Choate; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carabou/146530613/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: Ross Elliott; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ross_elliott/5064720453/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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