A short series of basic aqueous reactions

Chemistry Tutorial

A short series of basic aqueous reactions


When two different aqueous solutions meet, it is important to know what happens. You could get a solid, a gas, or no reaction at all. This tutorial will provide a series of questions to test your knowledge, and assumes that you have at least a basic understanding of the fundamentals of aqueous chemistry.

Sample Problem

Complete and balance the following reactions:

a) NaI (aq) + Pb(NO3)2 (aq) ->

b) H2SO4 (aq) + LiOH (aq) ->

c) HC2H3O2 (aq) + NaHCO3 (s) ->

d) NaNO3 (aq) + KCl (aq) ->


a) This is an ion exchange reaction, with products being lead (II) iodide, PbI2, and sodium nitrate, NaNO3. PbI2 is insoluble in water and will precipitate as a yellow solid, while NaNO3, being soluble, will remain aqueous. Two units of NaI are required to supply the correct ratio of lead to iodine, with two units of NaNO3 left over. The final answer is:

2 NaI (aq) + Pb(NO3)2 (aq) -> PbI2 (s) + 2 NaNO3 (aq)

b) This is an acid-base reaction, also known as a neutralization, featuring a strong acid, sulfuric acid, and a strong base, lithium hydroxide. It is similar to an ion exchange reaction as in a), but one of the products is water, a result of H+ and OH- ions meeting. The other product is Li2SO4 (sulfuric acid is a strong enough acid that both hydrogens exhibit acidic behavior), which remains in solution. Remember to balance the reaction. The final answer is:

H2SO4 (aq) + 2 LiOH (aq) -> Li2SO4 (aq) + 2 H2O (l)

c) This is also an acid-base reaction, but with a weak acid, acetic acid, and a weak base, sodium bicarbonate. Note that while acetic acid has four hydrogen atoms, only one is acidic, which is why the formula is written as it is. Despite the fact that NaHCO3 is solid here, the reaction will still take place, creating soluble sodium acetate and carbonic acid, H2CO3. Carbonic acid is unstable, however, and it will rapidly decompose into carbon dioxide and water. CO2 is insoluble in water at atmospheric pressure (which is assumed to be the case here) and will escape as a gas. Conveniently, the reaction is already balanced as it is. The final answer is:

HC2H3O2 (aq) + NaHCO3 (s) -> NaC2H3O2 (aq) + CO2 (g) + H2O (l)

This is the reaction commonly seen in household “volcano” reactions, with baking soda (solid NaHCO3) and vinegar (acetic acid in water).

d) If an ion exchange reaction is attempted, the products would be NaCl and KNO3. However, both of these are soluble in water, so no reaction would take place. Instead, the result would be a mixture of aqueous Na+, K+, Cl-, and NO3- ions. The final answer is:

NaNO3 (aq) + KCl (aq) -> no reaction

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