Base (chemistry)

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A base in chemistry is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or more generally, donate electron pairs. A soluble base is referred to as an alkali if it contains and releases hydroxide ions (OH) quantitatively. The Brønsted-Lowry theory defines bases as proton (hydrogen ion) acceptors, while the more general Lewis theory defines bases as electron pair donors, allowing other Lewis acids than protons to be included.[1] The oldest Arrhenius theory defines bases as hydroxide anions,[2] which is strictly applicable only to alkali. In water, by altering the autoionization equilibrium, bases give solutions with a hydrogen ion activity lower than that of pure water, i.e. a pH higher than 7.0 at standard conditions. Examples of common bases are sodium hydroxide and ammonia. Metal oxides, hydroxides and especially alkoxides are basic, and counteranions of weak acids are weak bases.

Bases can be thought of as the chemical opposite of acids. A reaction between an acid and base is called neutralization. Bases and acids are seen as opposites because the effect of an acid is to increase the hydronium ion (H3O+) concentration in water, whereas bases reduce this concentration. Bases and acids are typically found in aqueous solution forms. Aqueous solutions of bases react with aqueous solutions of acids to produce water and salts in aqueous solutions in which the salts separate into their component ions. If the aqueous solution is a saturated solution with respect to a given salt solute any additional such salt present in the solution will result in formation of a precipitate of the salt.

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