When we mix an acidic solution with an alkaline or basic solution, it always results in the formation of salt and the release of water as a by-product. This reaction is known as neutralization. Neutralization reaction tends to lower the strength of the acid and the base; therefore, the strength of the resultant solution is neither acidic nor basic but is neutral. A number of our daily life activities such as brushing our teeth, washing our hair with shampoo and hair conditioner, gardening, etc., make use of the neutralization reaction.
Examples of Neutralization
A person suffering from acidity is generally suggested to take antacids. This is because the antacids contain bases such as aluminium hydroxide (Al(OH)3), magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2), etc. The mixture of acid produced in the body and the externally added base tend to cause a neutralisation reaction that soothes the discomfort and temporarily cures the disease. Sometimes milk of magnesia is also recommended during indigestion and other stomach related problems.
2. Treating Wasp Sting
Bee stings and ant bites cause irritation, inflammation, and pain around the infected area due to the release of formic acid. To reduce the pain and discomfort during such a situation, bases such as baking powder, baking soda, etc. are applied to the infected area. The bases tend to neutralize the formic acid released by the sting of bees or ants and helps reduce inflammation and pain. Similarly, in the case of a wasp sting, vinegar is applied to the infected area. This is because the chemical released by a wasp during the sting is alkaline in nature that gets neutralized efficiently with the help of an acetic solution such as vinegar.
3. Soil Treatment
Neutralization plays a major role in farming. For the cultivation of healthy crops, the nature of the soil should be neutral, i.e., it should neither be too acidic nor too basic. However, the excessive use of chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers cause the soil turn acidic or basic in nature. Hence, before sowing the new batch of crops, the soil is required to be properly examined. If the soil turns out to be acidic in nature, then bases such as quick lime (calcium oxide), slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), etc., can be used to neutralize it. Similarly, if the soil is basic in nature, then organic matter such as composts are used to release acids and restore the neutral strength of the soil.
4. Industrial Waste Treatment
The waste generated by almost all types of factories is toxic and acidic in nature. The harmful waste coming out of such factories is generally discharged into the nearby flowing water bodies like rivers. This affects the health of marine plants and animals. To minimize the damage caused due to the acidic nature of the waste, it must be treated before disposal. This treatment of waste is based on the neutralization reaction.
5. Brushing Teeth
Brushing teeth with basic toothpaste is a classic example of a neutralization reaction in everyday life. The decaying food particles in our teeth tend to form acid and cause teeth decay. To balance the excessive production of acid in the mouth, it is advised to brush one’s teeth at least twice a day. This is because the alkaline or basic nature of the toothpaste tends to neutralize the acid released by the food particles present in the mouth.
6. Shampoo and Conditioner
One can easily observe the neutralization reaction by observing the effect of shampoo and conditioner on one’s hair. The hair usually feels rough and tangled after washing them with shampoo because the shampoo is mildly alkaline in nature. This problem can be resolved by applying conditioner to hair after the wash. Hair conditioners are mild acids that neutralise the alkaline nature of the hair and helps restore moisture and smoothness in them.
7. Formation of Table salt
The formation of sodium chloride (NaCl) or table salt is one of the most common examples of a neutralization reaction. If we take hydrochloric acid (HCl) and mix it with a base sodium hydroxide (NaOH), it results in the formation of sodium chloride (NaCl) and Water (H2O). This reaction is exothermic in nature and releases a lot of heat during the process.