The pH value is the measure of whether a certain substance or solution is acidic or basic. The pH scale is used on a wide variety of substances, from water to soil. Depending on the substance and where the substance will be used, the acidity or how basic a substance is can be a good or bad attribute. The skin, for example, has a certain pH level that, when disturbed, can lead to skin problems such as acne. The soil also has certain pH levels that can foster the growth of certain plants, and which can be detrimental for others. There are various ways of measuring the pH level, using either hydrogen ions or hydroxide concentrations. Here’s how.
Via hydrogen ions. To calculate the pH using hydrogen ions, you need to divide the number of molecules that are present in the hydrogen ions against the solution’s volume, which is usually given in terms of liters. Afterwards, you will need to take the negative log function of the resulting number. The number should always be within 14 and zero since the pH scale has a value of zero to fourteen.
Via hydroxide concentrations. Apart from the use of hydrogen ions, you can also compute for the pH level using the hydroxide concentration by checking for the pOH or the hydroxide content of a given solution. You can do this by taking the number of hydroxide or pOH ions, and dividing these by the number of liters in the solution volume. Afterwards, you will need to take the negative log of the resulting number, which should give you the pOH concentration. The pOH concentration should then be subtracted by a value of fourteen, which should give you the pH value of the given substance. Again, the value should be a digit between zero and fourteen.
pH comparisons. Generally, solutions that have higher pH levels are more acidic. When a substance is acidic, it is more corrosive. This means that the substance can bore away and eventually melt off the substance that is in contact with the acidic substance, especially if the material is made from metals. When the solution has a low pH level, on the other hand, the substance is basic. Basic substances have a slippery feel and will change litmus paper into the color blue. If you have a substance that is very acidic, one of the ways to reduce the pH level is by adding in basic compounds. Likewise, basic compounds can become more acidic by adding in more acidic substances. Most experiments conducted with acids and bases involve substances that are in an aqueous phase, which means that these are suspended in water. Care should be taken when combining materials that are highly acidic and highly basic, since this will form a strong chemical reaction, which is the same, used to create volcanoes for science projects.
With knowledge of how to compute for the pH level, you can determine whether a given substance is appropriate for a given purpose. Grape farmers, for instance, need acidic soil in order to create wine quality grapes. Compare the pH results with specific charts with recommended pH levels, to determine whether a given substance needs to be more acidic or basic.