How do you neutralize sulfuric acid?


Quick Answer

Sulfuric acid is neutralized by a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide or ammonium sulfate. According to Digital Analysis Corporation, other commonly used neutralizing bases, such as magnesium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide, neutralize strong acids like sulfuric acid as well.

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Full Answer

The neutralization of a strong acid requires the addition of a strong base to balance the hydrogen atoms from an acid with the hydroxide ions from a base. When the acid and base come together and react, it forms a salt and releases water. For instance, when sulfuric acid is reacted with the base ammonium hydroxide, it produces the salt ammonium sulfate and water.

According to Argonne National Laboratory, baking soda neutralizes sulfuric acid. However, when the two substances react, the reaction produces carbon dioxide, which results in a messy foam. An alternative is to use a diluted form of sodium hydroxide known as caustic soda. According to Argonne, a neutralization of sulfuric acid is reached by adding diluted sodium hydroxide to an acid slowly until an endpoint is reached. Litmus paper can verify the endpoint has been reached, which is noted by an increase in the pH level. It is likely to hover around a pH of 7, but this varies depending on the strength of the acid and the base. The reaction of the caustic soda with sulfuric acid produces an aqueous form of sodium sulfate, which is safe to discard.

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