Jim Garlich: Acids and bases

July 20, 2013 

Bases and acids

Lye (sodium hydroxide) is a very strong, corrosive, dangerous base, not “an acidic substance,” as stated in a July 14 article.

Everyone with a high school education should know the chemical differences between acids and bases. Concentrated strong acids and bases are commonly available for household use, such as sodium or potassium hydroxide (bases) and hydrochloric acid or sulfonic acid. Concentrated sodium hydroxide (lye) is the active ingredient in drain cleaners.

Acids and bases are potentially dangerous. Knowledge and respect of their chemical properties should prompt the user to heed the warning labels and follow instructions. Knowledge of the differences between strong acids and bases is essential to understand what to do in case of contact and in subsequent neutralization.

Only with proper understanding can these products be used safely.

Jim Garlich


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