Why do acids and bases conduct electricity? Thanks

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mvcdc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Acids are species with pH less than 7, while bases those with pH  greater than 7. Depending on the definition used - Arrhenius, Bronsted-Lowry, or Lewis - acids can be described as proton donors, or electron acceptors while bases as proton acceptors or electron donors. Using Arrhenius' definition, acids are those that produce the hydrogen ion when dissolved in water (`H^+` ) while bases produce the hydroxide ion (`OH^-` ).

These ions, when in water, act as charge carriers and can hence conduct electricity. Stronger acids dissociate completely and produce more of the ions. For instance, hydrochloric acid, a strong acid, would dissociate more, and hence, conduct electricity more strongly, while acetic acid is a weak acid, and would conduct more weakly. 

The general term for substances that conduct electricity when dissolved in water is electrolytes. Acids and bases are electrolytes due to the production of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions. 

alejandrogalarce | Student

All acids and bases do not ionize or dissociate to the same extent. This leads to the statement that acids and bases are not all of equal strength in producing H+ and OH- ions in solution. The terms "strong" and "weak" give an indication of the strength of an acid or base. The terms strong and weak describe the ability of acid and base solutions to conduct electricity. If the acid or base conducts electricity strongly, it is a strong acid or base. If the acid or base conducts electricity weakly, it is a weak acid or base.

An acid or base which strongly conducts electricity contains a large number of ions and is called a strong acid or base and an acid or base which conducts electricity only weakly contains only a few ions and is called a weak acid or base.

ayl0124 | Student

Only strong acids and strong bases are strong electrolytes. This is because they dissociate completely into separate ions. Weak acids and weak bases are weak electrolytes because they do not dissociate completely. 

All ionic substances (in liquid form) are strong electrolytes because they dissociate completely as well. Meanwhile, a covalent substance such as sugar may dissolve but will not conduct electricity because it does not dissociate. 

HCl is a common strong acid and dissociates into two ions: H+ and Cl-.

`HCl -> H^+ + Cl^-`

kavya--kammana | Student

Acids and bases do conduct electricity due to the presence of H+

and OH- ions..Since they are charged particles the conduct electricity..


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