Litmus Paper

You can go your whole life without paying any attention to the chemistry behind acids and bases. But you use acids and bases all the time! They are all around you. We identify acids and bases by measuring their pH.

Every liquid has a pH. If you pay particular attention to this lab, you will even be able to identify most acids and bases and understand why they do what they do. Acids range from very strong to very weak. The strongest acids will dissolve steel. The weakest acids are in your drink box. The strongest bases behave similarly. They can burn your skin or you can wash your hands with them.

Acid rain is one aspect of low pH that you can see every day if you look for it. This is a strange name, isn’t it? We get rained on all the time. If people were dissolving, if the rain made their skin smoke and burn, you’d think it would make headlines, wouldn’t you? The truth is acid rain is too weak to harm us except in very rare and localized conditions. But it’s hard on limestone buildings.

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