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Alkali vs. Base: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 23, 2023
Alkali is a water-soluble base; a base can be soluble or insoluble.

Key Differences

Alkali and base are both associated with pH levels and their reaction to acids. An alkali is a specific type of base that dissolves in water to produce hydroxide ions (OH⁻). This dissolution results in a pH greater than 7. On the other hand, a base is a broader term referring to any substance that can accept hydrogen ions or donate a pair of electrons to an acid.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
Alkalis and bases play fundamental roles in chemistry. While every alkali is a base, not every base is an alkali. A substance can be a base without having the solubility characteristics of an alkali. For instance, while sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is both an alkali and a base because it dissolves in water to produce OH⁻ ions, aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃) is a base but not an alkali since it doesn't dissolve in water.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
In everyday language, alkali often refers to basic substances that are water-soluble. For example, common household substances like baking soda can act as alkalis. On the flip side, the term base encompasses a wider range of substances, soluble or not. An example would be ammonia, which is a base but not an alkali.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
It's also important to note that while alkalis always display basic properties, not all bases will exhibit alkali properties. Alkalis have the unique characteristic of being water-soluble, which makes them distinct from other bases. This solubility is what enables alkalis to be especially reactive with acids, resulting in neutralization reactions.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Water-soluble base.
Substance that accepts hydrogen ions.
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Oct 23, 2023
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Solubility

Always soluble in water.
Can be soluble or insoluble in water.
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Oct 23, 2023

Example

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH).
Aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃).
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Oct 23, 2023

PH Level

Greater than 7 when dissolved in water.
May or may not result in pH greater than 7.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Reaction with Acid

Always neutralizes acids to produce salt and water.
May or may not neutralize acids in the same way.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Alkali and Base Definitions

Alkali

A water-soluble base that produces hydroxide ions when dissolved.
When sodium hydroxide dissolves in water, it behaves as an alkali.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023
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Base

A substance that can accept hydrogen ions or donate a pair of electrons.
Ammonia acts as a base by accepting a hydrogen ion from water.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023

Alkali

A basic substance with a pH greater than 7 in aqueous solutions.
Lime water turns pink with universal indicator due to its alkali nature.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Base

An electron-pair donor.
BF3 reacts with NH3 because NH3 serves as a base, donating a pair of electrons.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Alkali

A member of the group consisting of lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium.
Sodium, found in table salt, is an alkali metal.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Base

A substance that reduces the hydrogen ion concentration in a solution.
Magnesium hydroxide is a base that reduces the acidity in stomach acid.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Alkali

A substance commonly found in household products, like baking soda, which exhibits basic properties.
Baking soda, used in baking, acts as an alkali to neutralize acids in recipes.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Base

The opposite of an acid, typically having a slippery feel and turning litmus blue.
Soap has a slippery feel due to its base properties.
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Oct 23, 2023

Alkali

A substance that neutralizes acids to produce salt and water.
Potassium hydroxide, an alkali, reacts with hydrochloric acid to form potassium chloride and water.
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Oct 23, 2023

Base

The starting point or foundation of a substance or argument.
The base hypothesis of the study was that sunlight affects plant growth.
Sara Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

FAQs

How does an alkali differ from a base in terms of solubility?

Alkalis are always soluble in water, while bases can be either soluble or insoluble.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

What is an alkali?

An alkali is a water-soluble base that produces hydroxide ions when dissolved.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Is every base an alkali?

No, while every alkali is a base, not every base is an alkali.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 23, 2023

Can you give an example of an alkali?

Yes, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is an example of an alkali.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

What defines a substance as a base?

A base is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or donate a pair of electrons.
Janet White
Oct 23, 2023

How can I determine if a substance is an alkali or just a base?

If the substance is water-soluble and produces hydroxide ions when dissolved, it's an alkali. If it has the ability to accept hydrogen ions without necessarily being soluble, it's a base.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Are alkalis always basic?

Yes, alkalis, being a type of base, always display basic properties.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Do all bases have a pH greater than 7?

Not necessarily. While alkalis will have a pH greater than 7, not all bases will.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

How do bases react with metals?

Many bases can react with metals to produce hydrogen gas.
Sara Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Are alkalis found naturally?

Yes, some alkalis, like lime (calcium hydroxide), are found in nature.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

Why is the distinction between alkalis and bases important?

The distinction helps in understanding their properties, solubility, and reactions, especially in chemistry and industrial applications.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

What happens when an alkali reacts with an acid?

An alkali neutralizes an acid to produce salt and water.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 23, 2023

What is a common household alkali?

Baking soda is a common household alkali.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Is ammonia an alkali or a base?

Ammonia is a base but not an alkali since it doesn't produce hydroxide ions when dissolved in water.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

What makes a substance basic?

A substance is basic if it can accept hydrogen ions or donate a pair of electrons.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Are there dangerous alkalis?

Yes, some alkalis like caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) are corrosive and can be harmful.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Why are some bases not alkalis?

Some bases aren't alkalis because they don't dissolve in water to produce hydroxide ions.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Can bases exist in a non-liquid form?

Yes, bases can be solid, liquid, or even gaseous.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023

Can a substance be both an alkali and a base?

Yes, for example, sodium hydroxide is both an alkali and a base.
Harlon Moss
Oct 23, 2023

Why do alkalis feel slippery?

The slippery feel of alkalis is due to the reaction of the alkali with the natural oils on skin.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 23, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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