Acids & Alkalis

Introduction to acids and alkalis
 
Acids and alkalis have important safety considerations. Whilst safe when used as directed, a risk assessment should be undertaken before introducing potentially corrosive materials into the workplace. The risk assessment will consider both the material and the working environment.
This text is intended as an introduction to the subject, and should not be considered definitive or exhaustive.
 
What is the difference between an acid and an alkali?

 
The strength of acids and alkalis is measured on the pH scale on a nominal range 1 to 14. The mid-point of 7 is considered neutral, neither acid nor alkali. A pH of less than 7 indicates an acid, and higher than 7 indicates an alkali. Alkalis are also called bases, or basic.
It is important to remember that the pH scale is logarithmic, not linear. Don’t panic! This simply means that a difference of one on the scale means a ten-fold difference in strength. As an example, pH3 is ten times more acidic than pH4, and pH9 is ten times more alkaline than pH8. Strengths ramp up very quickly.
All acids and alkalis should be handled with care.
 
What exactly is pH?

 
An odd name for a measurement scale. Let’s keep it easy. Think of it as an acronym for “power of hydrogen”. Acids have lots of free hydrogen ions and want to give them away, alkalis have none and keen to get some. This is reflected in how they react.
 
Are there any materials not compatible with acids or alkalis? 
Well, yes. There’s a funny little group of metals called the amphoterics which don’t much like acids or alkalis. Aluminium is an example. Soft glass and plastics aren’t keen either.
 
If you’ve stayed with us this far, thank you. Please take the time to check out our range of safer pH adjusted cleaners and detergents.
 
How do acids and alkalis affect detergents?
 
Detergents can be pepped up by adding acids and alkalis. And by careful formulation with choosing the right pH, we can tailor a detergent to a specific task.
Those excess hydrogens (acids) are great for dissolving scale, and very good at cleaning/brightening ferrous metals. Anything with a metal in it!
Those hydrogen hungry alkalis have far more applications. They mop up most non-metallics; oils, greases, grime and dirt. They are thus the go-to cleaning product.