Bases and acids come into play in everyday life in everything from the medicine you take to digestion of the foods you eat and even cleaning products you use.
Therefore, bases and acids have uses in more places than just a scientific laboratory. Many of the products we use today would not have much use without bases and acids. In this article we will discuss all the uses of the bases and acids.
A pH scale ranges from 1 to 14 and shows the range of acids and bases from top to bottom. Bases (high pH) range from 8 to 14 on scale, while acids (low pH) range from 1 to 6 on the scale. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, just like pure water. pH refers to the amount of hydrogen ions in a solution and stands for “potential for hydrogen ion concentration.” The more hydrogen ions present, the lower the pH. On the other hand, the fewer hydrogen ions, the higher the pH.
You have already experienced your first base of the day, if you brush your teeth every morning when you wake up. Toothpaste belongs to the group of weak bases, because it contains sodium fluoride. At the time of brushing, the high pH of the toothpaste helps to kill all bacteria that reside in your mouth. Those bacteria prefer the conditions of your unbrushed teeth, which is a neutral to slightly acidic environment.
The foods that you eat every day also have characteristic acid or base properties to them. For example, let’s say you want to drink a nice tall glass of orange juice in the morning, after brushing your teeth. Oranges themselves, and orange juice as a drink, register as quite acidic. For this reason, high citric acid content found in oranges give them a low pH. If you decide to indulge in some potatoes and a steak later in the day for lunch, this would have mostly basic properties.
Once you ate all that food has come back to haunt you. Our bodies produce gastric acid in our stomachs, which is extremely acidic material (pH 1-2) that helps to break down the potatoes and steak you have just eaten. For this reason, the acid turns on enzymes which break down the proteins in your food. In addition, the highly acidic environment also helps to control harmful microorganisms from getting to our intestines, where they can be a cause of serious illness.
A common condition called “heartburn” or “acid reflux” can occur, when we have produced too much of this acid. Acid reflux occurs when the acid starts to creep up your esophagus from overproduction. A basic formula – antacids – neutralizes the acid in order to provide you with relief from the burning feeling.
Some of the most common cleaning products on the market have acidic or basic properties to them, which enhance their cleaning power. When drains get clogged, the cleaning products are able to eat through the clog thanks to these basic properties of some chemicals, resulting in clearing the drain.