How to Write a Neutralization Reaction

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Neutralization reactions are reactions that involve acid and bases. When acid solutions combine with basic solutions, the hydrogen ions and the hydroxide ions combine to form water. The ions left in the solution are called salt. To write the equation for this reaction you must first list all the reactants and products. The reactants must include an acid and a base and the products will include water. Once you have the equation written you must balance the equation to describe the reaction correctly.

  • List the reactants of the reaction. The reactants may have many components, but they must include an acid and a base. The acid dissociates when it dissolves in water, as does the base. The ions present on the reactant side of the reaction include hydrogen ions, H+ and hydroxide ions, OH-. When these react with each other, they combine and form water.

  • List the products of the reaction. A neutralization reaction, by definition, produces water as one of the products. The other ions present in the resulting solution are the counter ions from the acid and base. The counter ions should be listed associated with each other on the products side of the reaction.

  • Write the reactants on the left side of the equation and the products on the right side of the equation. Write the salts produced during the neutralization as associated ions. For example, NaOH + HCl --> NaCl + H2O. The sodium ions associate with the chloride ions.

  • Balance the neutralization equation. Make sure that the same number of atoms is on both sides of the equation and the number of each type of atom appears on both sides. Charge must balance between the two sides of the equation. For example, the equation for the reaction of HCl with Mg(OH)2 is written as HCl + Mg(OH)2 --> MgCl2 + H2O. The correct balanced equation is 2 HCl + Mg(OH)2 --> MgCl2 + 2 H2O.

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