Reactions of acids
To investigate and compare some reactions of a strong
acid, hydrochloric acid, and a weak acid, ethanoic acid
(common name, acetic acid)
Dropper bottles containing:
• 0.1 M hydrochloric acid, HCl
• 0.1 M ethanoic acid (acetic acid), CH3COOH
• 0.1 M sodium hydroxide, NaOH
• 1 M hydrochloric acid, HCl
• 1 M ethanoic acid (acetic acid), CH3COOH
• universal indicator solution
• limewater (calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2)
Marble chips (calcium carbonate, CaCO3)
Copper(II) oxide, CuO
Small pieces of magnesium, Mg
10 clean, dry test tubes
Test tube rack
2 × 100 mL conical flask
One-holed rubber stopper with bent glass delivery tube
2 × Clamp and bosshead
Box of matches
pH colour chart
Put on your lab coat, safety glasses and plastic gloves.
Most of the substances used in this experiment need to
be handled with care.
1 Draw up a table to record each test and the results
for each acid
2 Place 2 mL of 0.1 M hydrochloric acid in one test
tube and add two drops of universal indicator
solution. Record the colour of the indicator and the
corresponding pH from the colour chart.
3 Repeat step 2 with the 0.1 M ethanoic acid, using a
fresh test tube.
4 To the first test tube add 0.1 M sodium hydroxide
drop by drop, counting the drops, until the solution
is neutral (i.e. the pH is 7).
5 Repeat step 5 with ethanoic acid.
6 Add a rice grain amount of copper(II) oxide to each of two fresh test tubes. To one, add 10 drops of 1 M hydrochloric
acid and to the other 10 drops of 1 M ethanoic acid.
Record your observations at the time of mixing and then
about 10 minutes later.
7 Using a clean spatula, transfer 4–5 marble chips to a
conical flask. Set up the apparatus shown in Figure 4.20,
but do not seal the flask with the rubber stopper yet.
Add about 2 cm deep of limewater to a fresh tube. Now
cover the marble chips with the 1 M hydrochloric acid
and quickly seal the flask. The gas produced in the flask
should bubble though the limewater. Has the limewater
turned milky? If so, you have shown that carbon dioxide
was produced. Record your observations of the changes
that occur in both the flask and the test tube.
8 Repeat step 7 with 1 M ethanoic acid, using a fresh
conical flask and fresh tube of limewater. Compare the
rate of this reaction with that of the hydrochloric acid.
9 Set up the retort stand, bossheads and clamps and then
clamp a fresh test tube in place, as shown in Figure 4.20.
Add about 2 mL of 1 M hydrochloric acid to the test tube.
chapter four: Chemical reactions
PART one: matter
15 Dispose of all solutions into the correct residue bottles according to your teacher’s instructions. Wash the test
tubes and flasks out and leave to drain.
• In the first tests, you found the pH of the two acids. Both acids were at the same concentration (0.1 M).
• Why were they compared at the same concentration?
• Why did they have a different pH?
• What can be concluded about the strength of ethanoic
acid compared with the strength of hydrochloric acid?
• Following is the balanced equation for the reaction of
ethanoic acid with water. The CH3COO– ion is termed the
ethanoate ion (also known as the acetate ion). Copy the
equation and insert the correct type of arrow in the space.
Then explain your reasoning.
CH3COOH(aq) + H2O(l)
Fig 4.20 Experiment set-up.
10 Invert, then clamp, another clean, dry test tube above it, leaving a small gap so you can add the magnesium ribbon
to the lower test tube. Have your teacher check your
11 Next drop two small pieces of magnesium ribbon into
the lower test tube, using the forceps. Then quickly lower
the top test tube so that there is now only a small gap
between the test tubes, as shown in Figure 4.20. Record
your observations of the reaction.
12 Lightly touch the bottom of the lower test tube. What has happened to the temperature of the mixture?
13 When the reaction has ceased, raise the inverted test tube and clamp it to a new position. Light a taper and hold
the lighted wick just inside the inverted test tube. Do you
hear a loud popping sound? If so, then you have shown
that hydrogen gas has been produced. But if you do not,
it may be that the mixture of hydrogen and air in the test
tube is not in the right proportions.
14 Repeat steps 19–13 with the 1 M ethanoic acid. This time your teacher should not need to check your apparatus.
CH3COO–(aq) + H3O+(aq)
• Compare the number of drops of sodium hydroxide
used to neutralise each acid. Is this what you expected?
• Compare the reactions of the two acids with the metal
oxide, copper(II) oxide. Which, if any, appeared to react
more vigorously with the metal oxide? Write balanced
equations for the reactions.
• The limewater test is the standard test for carbon dioxide gas. It goes milky because the carbon dioxide reacts
with the limewater to produce a precipitate of calcium
carbonate. This is the main constituent of marble chips
and chalk. The equation for the reaction is:
Ca(OH)2(aq) + CO2(g) ➝ CaCO3(s) + H2O(l)
id your tests confirm that carbon dioxide gas was
produced? Was there a difference in the rate of
its production? If so, suggest why. Write balanced
equations for the reactions of the two acids with
• The ‘pop test’ is the standard test for hydrogen gas. The ‘pop’ sound you hear is a mini-explosion due to
the combustion of hydrogen gas in air, which is a very
exothermic reaction. The equation for the reaction is:
2H2(g) + O2(g) ➝ 2H2O(l) + energy
id your tests confirm that hydrogen gas was
produced? Was there a difference in the rate of its
production? If so, suggest why.
• Was the reaction between the acids and magnesium
endothermic or exothermic? Justify your answer.
• Write balanced equations for the reactions of the two
acids with magnesium.
• Summarise your findings about the reactions of the
two acids in your conclusion.