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## Q. 4.8

Classify each of the following compounds in aqueous solution as a strong electrolyte, a weak electrolyte, or a nonelectrolyte; and then as an acid, a base, or neither an acid nor a base: $(a) NaCl$; $(b) HCl$; $(c) NaOH$; $(d) CH_{3}COOH$.

## Verified Solution

Collect and Organize We are given the formulas of four compounds and asked to classify them based on their behavior in an aqueous solution. We will work with the definitions of the given terms.

Analyze Strong electrolytes are substances that dissociate completely into ions when dissolved in water. Weak electrolytes dissociate only partially in water. Nonelectrolytes do not dissociate at all. A Brønsted–Lowry acid is defined as a proton donor, and a Brønsted–Lowry base is a proton acceptor.

Solve
a.  NaCl is an ionic compound that dissociates completely into ions in aqueous solution, as shown in Figure 4.11(c). Therefore NaCl is a strong electrolyte. Sodium chloride has no protons to donate, and neither $Na^{+}$ nor $Cl^{-}$ ions readily accept protons. Thus NaCl is neither an acid nor a base.
b.  HCl dissociates completely into $H^{+}$ and $Cl^{-}$ ions when dissolved in water, making HCl a strong electrolyte. As a proton donor, aqueous HCl is also a Brønsted–Lowry acid.
c.  NaOH is an ionic compound that dissociates completely into $Na^{+}$ and $OH^{-}$ ions in aqueous solution. NaOH is a strong electrolyte. The $OH^{-}$ ion formed upon dissolution of NaOH readily accepts a proton to form water, making NaOH a Brønsted–Lowry base.
d.  Some molecules of acetic acid, $CH_{3}COOH$, when dissolved in water, dissociate
into $H^{+}$ and $CH_{3}COO^{-}$ ions (Figure 4.11e), creating a weakly conducting solution; thus it is a weak electrolyte. Since acetic acid is a proton donor, it is considered a Brønsted–Lowry acid.

Think About It You should not be surprised that some strong electrolytes are also acids or bases. Acidity and basicity have different definitions from those for electrolytes, and substances can be classified as either an acid or a base while at the same time being either a strong or weak electrolyte. A weak electrolyte that donates a proton is a weak acid.