Studying chemistry involves learning about acids and bases. If you’re taking a chemistry class, you’ll probably need to memorize the strong acids and bases. Use this list of strong acids and bases as a tool to help you learn the names and chemical composition of each one.
Strong acids are not named as such because they are more powerful than other acids. A strong acid is one that dissolves in water. The term strong in the name refers to the acid’s ability to release hydrogen (H+) molecules, which allows it to become ionized when placed into a solution of water. Weak acids do not have this ability. There are seven strong acids.
These are all highly corrosive substances that can produce dangerous fumes and cause extremely painful burns. These substances must be handled with extreme care.
Memorizing a list of substances can be challenging. Try this combination of a mnemonic device paired with chunking to help commit the list of seven strong acids to memory.
Use the phrase “Chemistry needs preparation sometimes, help!” to get started memorizing the seven strong acids.
- chemistry - chloric acid
- needs - nitric acid
- preparation - perchloric acid
- sometimes - sulfuric acid
- help - hydro acid
Add on the chunking tip below to complete your memorization of the strong acids, since several of the items start with the same prefix.
In the list of strong acids, there are three h words, each starting with the prefix hydro. Chunk those three words together and learn the phrase “before in class” to help remember them. This phrase is based on the letter immediately following the hydro- in the remaining strong acids.
To recall the acids that start with the letter h, ask yourself, “When is help needed?” The answer is:
- before - hydrobromic
- in - hydroiodic
- class - hydrochloric
If you want to know more about the strong acids than just what they’re called and their chemical composition, you may find these examples of ways each one can be used interesting and informative.
- chloric acid - chloride salts manufacturing, match production, explosives production
- hydrobromic acid - industrial cleaning products, lithographic printing, engraving
- hydrochloric acid - stomach acid (aids in digestion), fireworks production, battery production
- hydroiodic acid - acetic acid production, sanitizing medical tools, Industrial reducing agent
- nitric acid - explosives production, ammonium nitrate (fertilizer), polyurethane production
- perchloric acid - separating sodium from potassium, rocket fuel production, explosives production
- sulfuric acid - drain cleaner ingredient, wastewater treatment, steel manufacturing
Each of these acids can be used in many ways beyond the examples provided above. Most of their usage applications are specific to industrial and scientific laboratory settings.
Like strong acids, strong bases also dissolve thoroughly in water, as opposed to weak bases that do not dissolve. Strong bases release hydroxide (OH-) ions and absorb hydrogen (H+) molecules. There are eight strong bases.
Extreme caution should be used when working with these substances. They are highly corrosive and can cause extremely dangerous chemical burns.
To help remember and recall the eight strong bases, try the mnemonic device below. Note that it includes the words base, and strong, so it should be easy to associate the phrase with what it represents.
- bases - barium
- can - calcium
- certainly - cesium
- look - lithium hydroxide
- pleasing - potassium hydroxide
- really - rubidium hydroxide
- something - sodium hydroxide
- strong - strontium hydroxide
Please note that where there are two strong bases that start with the same letter, the corresponding word in the mnemonic starts with the first two letters or the corresponding word to help make the memorization tool as helpful as possible.
Are you wondering about how the strong bases can be used? Discover a few examples of practical applications for each one.
- barium hydroxide - glass manufacturing, grease additive, pesticide production
- calcium hydroxide - dental fillings, food processing (pickling lime), wastewater treatment
- cesium hydroxide - electric storage batteries, metal production, radioactive waste clean-up
- lithium hydroxide - lithium ion batteries, lubricant (grease) production, soap manufacturing
- potassium hydroxide - desiccant, detergent ingredient, liquid fertilizer production
- rubidium hydroxide - electric storage batteries, rubidium crystals production, wastewater treatment
- sodium hydroxide - lye, drain cleaner ingredient, oven cleaner ingredient
- strontium hydroxide - grease manufacturing, soap manufacturing, extracting sugar from beets
The strong bases have many uses beyond the examples listed above. These substances have numerous applications in industrial and scientific settings.