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Difference Between Strong Acid and Weak Acid for JEE Main 2024

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Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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What is Strong Acid and Weak Acid: Introduction

To explain strong acid and weak acid: Strong acids and weak acids are classifications based on their ability to dissociate in water and release hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. Strong acids are highly ionizable and completely dissociate in water, resulting in a high concentration of $(H^+)$ ions. Examples of strong acids include hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$ and sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$. In contrast, weak acids only partially dissociate in water, leading to a lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions. Weak acids exhibit an equilibrium between the undissociated acid molecules and their dissociated ions. Examples of weak acids include acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$ and carbonic acid $(H_2CO_3)$. Let’s see about the characteristics of strong acid and weak acid.


Category:

JEE Main Difference Between

Content-Type:

Text, Images, Videos and PDF

Exam:

JEE Main

Topic Name:

Difference Between Strong Acid and Weak Acid

Academic Session:

2024

Medium:

English Medium

Subject:

Chemistry

Available Material:

Chapter-wise Difference Between Topics


Defining Strong Acid

A strong acid is an acid that completely dissociates in water to produce a high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. It exhibits a high level of ionization and has a strong tendency to donate protons. Strong acids have a low pH and are considered highly corrosive and reactive. When dissolved in water, they readily release $(H^+)$ ions, leading to a highly acidic solution. Examples of strong acids include hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$, sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$, and nitric acid $(HNO_3)$. Due to their complete dissociation, strong acids have a high acid dissociation constant $(Ka)$ and exhibit strong acidic properties in various chemical reactions and applications. The properties of strong acids are:

  • Complete Ionization: Strong acids fully dissociate in water, producing a high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. This results in a highly acidic solution.

  • High Acid Dissociation Constant $(Ka)$: Strong acids have a large $Ka$ value, indicating a high degree of ionization and a strong tendency to donate protons.

  • Low pH: Strong acids have a pH value below 7, indicating their acidic nature. The lower the pH, the stronger the acid.

  • Corrosive and Reactive: Strong acids are highly corrosive and reactive substances. They can cause severe burns and damage to living tissues and many materials.

  • Conductivity: Due to the high concentration of $(H^+)$ ions, solutions of strong acids are good conductors of electricity.

  • Strong Acid-Base Reactions: Strong acids react vigorously with bases, neutralizing them and forming water and salt.


Defining Weak Acid

A weak acid is an acid that only partially dissociates in water, resulting in a lower concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. Unlike strong acids, weak acids exhibit limited ionization and establish an equilibrium between the undissociated acid molecules and their dissociated ions. This equilibrium leads to a smaller fraction of $(H^+)$ ions in the solution. Weak acids have a higher $(Ka)$ value compared to strong acids, indicating a lower degree of ionization. Examples of weak acids include acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$, carbonic acid $(H_2CO_3)$, and citric acid (C6H8O7). Due to their incomplete dissociation, weak acids have a less acidic taste and generally exhibit less corrosive and reactive properties compared to strong acids. The properties of weak acids are:

  • Partial Ionization: Weak acids only partially dissociate in water, resulting in a lower concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. They establish an equilibrium between the undissociated acid molecules and their dissociated ions.

  • Low Acid Dissociation Constant $(Ka)$: Weak acids have a small $(Ka)$ value, indicating a lower degree of ionization and a weaker tendency to donate protons.

  • Higher pH: Solutions of weak acids have a pH value greater than 7 but less than 14, indicating their slightly acidic nature.

  • Less Corrosive and Reactive: Weak acids are generally less corrosive and reactive compared to strong acids. They have milder effects on living tissues and materials.

  • Conductivity: Due to the lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions, solutions of weak acids have lower electrical conductivity compared to strong acids.

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium: Weak acids exhibit an equilibrium between the undissociated acid molecules and their dissociated ions. This equilibrium can be influenced by factors such as concentration, temperature, and the presence of other species.


Strong Acid and Weak Acid Differences

S.No

Category 

Strong acid 

Weak acid 

1.

pH

Low (below 7)

Slightly acidic (greater than 7 but less than 14)

2.

Corrosiveness

Strong acids are highly corrosive and reactive.

Weak acids are less corrosive and reactive.

3.

Conductivity

Good conductor of electricity

Lower electrical conductivity

4.

Acid-Base Reactions

Vigorous reactions with bases

Weaker reactions with bases

5. 

Taste

Sour taste

Mild or slightly sour taste

6. 

Examples

Hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$, sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$

Acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$, carbonic acid $(H_2CO_3)$


It's important to note that the classification of an acid as "strong" or "weak" is based on its degree of ionization, which is determined by the acid dissociation constant $(Ka)$. These characteristics are general trends, and there may be exceptions or variations depending on specific acids and their concentrations.


Summary

The strength of an acid is determined by its acid dissociation constant $(Ka)$, with strong acids having a large $(Ka)$ value and weak acids having a small $(Ka)$ value. Unlike strong acids, weak acids exhibit limited ionization and establish an equilibrium between the undissociated acid molecules and their dissociated ions. Strong acids have a low pH and are considered highly corrosive and reactive as compared to weak acids.

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FAQs on Difference Between Strong Acid and Weak Acid for JEE Main 2024

1. Discuss the taste sensation associated with strong acids and weak acids.

The taste sensation associated with strong acids and weak acids differs due to their varying degrees of ionization and concentration. Strong acids, such as hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$ and sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$, evoke a sour taste due to their high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. This high concentration stimulates the sour taste receptors on the tongue. In contrast, weak acids, like acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$ or citric acid (C6H8O7), produce a milder or slightly sour taste due to their lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions.

2. How does the electrical conductivity of solutions of strong acids differ from that of weak acids?

Strong acids, such as hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$ and sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$, exhibit high electrical conductivity. This is because they ionize almost completely in water, generating a high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$. These freely moving ions facilitate the flow of electric current. In contrast, weak acids, like acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$ or citric acid (C6H8O7), have a lower electrical conductivity. They only partially ionize, resulting in a lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions, and fewer ions available for conducting electricity.

3. Describe the corrosiveness and reactivity of strong acids versus weak acids.

Strong acids are highly corrosive and reactive compared to weak acids. The high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$ in strong acids leads to their aggressive nature. Strong acids readily donate protons, making them strong electrolytes and participating in vigorous chemical reactions. They can react with bases, metals, and other compounds with high reactivity, often resulting in the release of heat, gases, and the formation of salts. In contrast, weak acids have milder corrosiveness and reactivity due to their lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions and reduced tendency for complete ionization.

4. Provide examples of commonly encountered strong acids and weak acids.

Examples of commonly encountered strong acids include hydrochloric acid $(HCl)$, sulfuric acid $(H_2SO_4)$, nitric acid $(HNO_3)$, and hydrobromic acid (HBr). These acids fully dissociate in water, producing a high concentration of hydrogen ions $(H^+)$, making them highly acidic and corrosive. On the other hand, commonly encountered weak acids include acetic acid $(CH_3COOH)$, formic acid (HCOOH), citric acid (C6H8O7), and carbonic acid $(H_2CO_3)$. Weak acids only partially dissociate in water, resulting in a lower concentration of $(H^+)$ ions. These acids have milder acidic properties and are generally less corrosive and reactive compared to strong acids.

5. Define the acid dissociation constant $(Ka)$ and explain its significance in determining the strength of an acid.

The acid dissociation constant $(Ka)$ is a measure of the extent to which an acid dissociates or ionizes in water. It is defined as the ratio of the concentration of the dissociated ions ($(H^+)$ or hydronium ions) to the concentration of the undissociated acid. The higher the $(Ka)$ value, the stronger the acid. The significance of $(Ka)$ lies in its ability to determine the relative strengths of acids. Strong acids have large $(Ka)$ values, indicating almost complete dissociation, while weak acids have small $(Ka)$ values, signifying partial dissociation. $(Ka)$ is crucial in understanding acid behavior, acid-base reactions, and predicting the extent of ionization for different acids in solution.