What is Neutralization?

   Neutralization is a type of chemical reaction in which an acid and base exchange parts to form water and a salt. In complete neutralization, the resulting solution usually has neither acidic nor basic properties, and is called neutral.
   An acid is a compound which in solution releases positive hydrogen ions (H+) and a negative ion.    Bases in solution release a negative hydroxyl ion (OH-) and another positive ion.
In neutralization, the characteristic parts of an acid and a base, the hydrogen ion and the HYDROXYL ion, unite to form water. (H+ plus OH- produces HOH or H2O, water.) Thus the acid and base lose their abilities to act. The remaining parts produce a SALT, which is a substance that will separate to form positive ions other than hydrogen, and negative ions other than hydroxyl. Salts may be acidic or basic, but usually are neutral.
   Complete neutralization occurs when acids and bases of equal strengths are combined in equal amounts. A chemist knows when neutralization is complete by using indicators, such as litmus paper which changes color in the presence of acids or bases. Phenolphthalein is another commonly used indicator.
   Neutralization occurs in many important processes of the human body such as digestion and metabolism. It is widely used in chemical analysis and in industry.