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hydrolytic definition and how come conjugate salts of weak acids can hydrolyze water

Submitted by jkyc117 on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 13:19

what does hydrolytic means?

how come conjuage salts of weak acids can hydrolyze water?


hydrolysis is the process of splitting a water molecule into hydronium and hydroxide ions

                      H2O    H+  +  OH-

A salt formed from a weak acid forms a basic salt because the anion left after the acid donates it's proton has the ability to act as base.

HCl is a strong acid, which means it completely ionizes.  That fact also indicates that Cl- is a very poor base.  It is not interested in accepting a proton and going back to HCl.

HC2H3O2 is a weak acid that only partially ionizes.  The fact that it only partially ionizes is explained by the fact that the acid forms an equilibrium mixture in which the C2H3O2- ion is willing to accept a proton and go back to HC2H3O2 in the reverse reaction.  This indicates that the acetate ion has the ability to act as a base.

If you put Na C2H3O2 in water it dissociates and the acetate ion can then accept H+ ions from water molecules to form HC2H3O2 molecules and leaving behind OH- ions.  These OH- ions make the solution of the salt basic with a pH greater than 7.