Chemistry » Acid-Base Equilibria » Polyprotic Acids

Summarizing Polyprotic Acids

Key Concepts and Summary

An acid that contains more than one ionizable proton is a polyprotic acid. The protons of these acids ionize in steps. The differences in the acid ionization constants for the successive ionizations of the protons in a polyprotic acid usually vary by roughly five orders of magnitude. As long as the difference between the successive values of Ka of the acid is greater than about a factor of 20, it is appropriate to break down the calculations of the concentrations of the ions in solution into a series of steps.

Glossary

diprotic acid

acid containing two ionizable hydrogen atoms per molecule. A diprotic acid ionizes in two steps

diprotic base

base capable of accepting two protons. The protons are accepted in two steps

monoprotic acid

acid containing one ionizable hydrogen atom per molecule

stepwise ionization

process in which an acid is ionized by losing protons sequentially

triprotic acid

acid that contains three ionizable hydrogen atoms per molecule; ionization of triprotic acids occurs in three steps

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