The “reaction of sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid”

Romeo and Juliet just may end happily after all


You won’t find the coun­try of Chem­istry on a world map, but it ex­ists none­the­less. Life there is ev­ery bit as rich and var­ied as in any oth­er realm – and some­times even more so. Even “Romeo and Juli­et” has a hap­py end­ing there. But let’s not get ahead of our­selves; we’ve got a lot to do. We’ll meet the chem­i­cal Mon­tagues and Ca­pulets, se­lect the finest can­di­date for the “re­ac­tion of sodi­um hy­drox­ide and hy­drochlo­ric acid,” set off into space, vis­it the world’s finest restau­rant, and ever so much more.

Let’s first vis­it the chem­i­cal lab­o­ra­to­ry.

Order in the lab [Deposit Photos]

In any lab­o­ra­to­ry where safe­ty rules are ob­served and re­spect­ed, al­ka­lis and their ilk are kept strict­ly sep­a­rate from acids and their ilk. These are the Mon­tagues and Ca­pulets of Chem­istry: both fam­i­lies are ag­gres­sive and im­pla­ca­bly hos­tile. If they meet with­out a Chemist’s su­per­vi­sion, it bodes only dis­as­ter! Nor do they spare the Chemists – they yearn to burn or poi­son them. So if the Chemists in­tend to have deal­ings with them, they must pro­tect them­selves as best they can: they have no re­course but to work with them in a fume hood, and wear a lab coat, apron, gloves, spe­cial boots, and glass­es or a pro­tec­tive shield.

But it just so hap­pened that the hand­some Sodi­um Hy­drox­ide, from the Al­ka­li fam­i­ly, fell in love with the en­chant­ing Hy­drochlo­ric Acid – from the Acid fam­i­ly!

To un­der­stand the full ex­tent of the tragedy, let’s get bet­ter ac­quaint­ed with them and ex­am­ine the na­ture of sodi­um hy­drox­ide and hy­drochlo­ric acid.

Sodi­um hy­drox­ide

Chem­i­cal for­mu­la NaOH. One of the most wide­spread al­ka­lis, also known as caus­tic soda.

Phys­i­cal prop­er­ties

Sodium hydroxide [Wikimedia]

A sol­id white or slight­ly yel­low­ish pow­der; hy­gro­scop­ic; cor­rodes many ma­te­ri­als and or­gan­ic sub­stances in­clud­ing pa­per, skin, and even some met­al;, dis­solves in wa­ter, ethyl and methyl al­co­hols.

Chem­i­cal prop­er­ties

A strong base that re­acts with:

  • acids;
  • am­pho­ter­ic ox­ides;
  • am­pho­ter­ic hy­drox­ides;
  • salts in so­lu­tion;
  • non-met­als;
  • halo­gens;
  • met­als;
  • es­ters, amides, and alkyl halides
  • poly­atom­ic al­co­hols.

Field of ap­pli­ca­tion

  • chem­i­cal in­dus­try;
  • pro­cess­ing in­dus­try;
  • pulp and pa­per in­dus­try;
  • civ­il de­fense as a neu­tral­iz­ing sub­stance;
  • food in­dus­try – to re­move the skins from fruits and veg­eta­bles, in the man­u­fac­ture of choco­late and ca­cao, and to soft­en olives and give them a dark col­or;
  • cos­met­ics – to re­move ker­a­tinized skin;
  • the house­hold.

Now, let’s ac­quaint our­selves with hy­drochlo­ric acid.

Hy­drochlo­ric acid

Chem­i­cal for­mu­la HCl. A strong min­er­al monoba­sic hy­dracid.

Phys­i­cal prop­er­ties

Hydrochloric acid [Deposit Photos]

Col­or­less, trans­par­ent, a caus­tic liq­uid that fumes in the air. Max­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion at 20 °C is 38%, with a so­lu­tion den­si­ty of 1.19g/cm³. High­ly-con­cen­trat­ed acid caus­es se­vere burns if it en­coun­ters skin, mu­cous mem­branes or eyes, but is present in the hu­man stom­ach at a con­cen­tra­tion of around 0.5%.

Chem­i­cal prop­er­ties

A strong acid that re­acts with:

  • met­als;
  • met­al hy­drox­ides;
  • met­al ox­ides;
  • met­al salts;
  • strong ox­i­diz­ers;
  • am­mo­ni­um. An in­ter­ac­tion with sil­ver ni­trate serves as a qual­i­ta­tive re­ac­tion to test for hy­drochlo­ric acid and its salts.

Field of use:

  • hy­dromet­al­lur­gy and elec­trotyp­ing;
  • chem­i­cal in­dus­try;
  • food in­dus­try as the food ad­di­tive E507;
  • medicine – to treat low acid­i­ty in the stom­ach.

And so a Chemist de­cid­ed to rec­on­cile the two hos­tile fam­i­lies and mar­ry the lovers, to do ev­ery­thing to make sure that the “re­ac­tion of sodi­um hy­drox­ide with hy­drochlo­ric acid” pro­ceed­ed as planned. A phe­nolph­thalein in­di­ca­tor served as the brides­maid for the “acid” bride. As soon as the re­ac­tion with the hy­drox­ide took place, the col­or­less in­di­ca­tor crim­soned with de­light. De­spite the ag­gres­sion of the sodi­um hy­drox­ide and hy­drochlo­ric acid, the re­ac­tion was a won­der­ful one. And its equa­tion reads as fol­lows:

HCl + NaOH = NaCl + H₂O + Q

Hy­drochlo­ric acid and sodi­um hy­drox­ide in­ter­act, re­sult­ing in salt and a re­lease of heat.

As we can see, the re­sult of the in­ter­ac­tion of two high­ly ag­gres­sive com­pounds is ta­ble salt and wa­ter – com­pounds that are ul­ti­mate­ly harm­less, even ben­e­fi­cial, to hu­man be­ings. And thus the two war­ring fam­i­lies ceased their ag­gres­sions and made peace.

To as­sess the prod­ucts of the re­ac­tion prop­er­ly, let’s get in a rock­et and ven­ture into space. We’ll look at our plan­et from a dis­tance. It’s called the blue plan­et for good rea­son, as 71% of its sur­face is com­prised of seas and oceans. Al­though, to be fair, we should note that only 1% of this wa­ter is suit­able for con­sump­tion. And wa­ter is one of the prod­ucts of our re­ac­tion.

And now let’s vis­it the best of restau­rants – you de­cide which! Let’s pro­ceed into the kitchen and ask the chef what two in­gre­di­ents they couldn’t do with­out. And be­lieve us, they won’t say caviar, truf­fles, or parme­san, they’ll say salt and wa­ter, as with­out these in­gre­di­ents you can’t pre­pare a sin­gle dish. And in com­bi­na­tion, our re­ac­tion prod­ucts can be found at home in soup, brine, or salt wa­ter. And now let’s dive in even deep­er, ex­am­in­ing the re­ac­tion of sodi­um hy­drox­ide and hy­drochlo­ric acid in the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of chem­i­cal re­ac­tions.

De­ter­min­ing the type of chem­i­cal re­ac­tion of hy­drochlo­ric acid with sodi­um hy­drox­ide

1. By the num­ber and state of the re­ac­tants and prod­ucts, it is an ex­change re­ac­tion. In oth­er words, the num­ber of sub­stances en­ter­ing into the re­ac­tion is equal to the num­ber of sub­stances re­ceived as a re­sult of the re­ac­tion. An sim­ple ex­change of ions has tak­en place. To clar­i­fy, let’s write our re­ac­tion equa­tion in ion­ic form:

H⁺ + Cl⁻ + Na⁺ + OH⁻ = Na⁺+Cl⁻ + H₂O

In ac­cor­dance with our sto­ry, the bride and groom have ex­changed their per­son­al prop­er­ty: what’s mine is yours. Here you can find out more about this dowry.

2. By the type of in­ter­act­ing sub­stances, it is a neu­tral­iza­tion re­ac­tion.

H⁺ + OH⁻ = H₂O

3. By the phys­i­cal state of sub­stances, it is ho­moge­nous. The sub­stances en­ter­ing into the re­ac­tion are in an iden­ti­cal phys­i­cal state – an iden­ti­cal liq­uid state.

4. By the di­rec­tion of the course of the re­ac­tion, it is ir­re­versible. The re­ac­tion con­tin­ues till the very end, un­til the re­act­ing sub­stances are com­plete­ly con­sumed.

5. By ther­mal ef­fect, it is exother­mic. In oth­er words, the wed­ding cer­e­mo­ny took place in a warm, friend­ly, and lov­ing at­mos­phere. The re­ac­tion is ac­com­pa­nied by a ther­mal ef­fect, and the amount of heat re­leased is 57.3 kJ/mol.

6. The re­ac­tion is not an ox­i­da­tion-re­duc­tion re­ac­tion: the ox­i­da­tion states of the atoms did not change over the course of the re­ac­tion.

H⁺Cl⁻ + Na⁺O²⁻H⁺ = Na⁺Cl⁻ + H⁺ O²⁻

And thus, our love sto­ry has a hap­py end­ing: lovers from two hos­tile fam­i­lies have joined to­geth­er in uni­ty.

The reunion [Deposit Photos]

The ag­gres­sive sodi­um hy­drox­ide and hy­drochlo­ric acid in­ter­act­ed, and the re­sult yield­ed use­ful prod­ucts.

Isn’t chem­istry a won­der­ful sci­ence? Via a re­ac­tion be­tween an acid and an al­ka­li, we have turned the sad­dest of tragedies into a joy­ful ro­mance!