Difference Between Acid and Base (With Table)

Acid and base are the chemical forms, which are a significant part of the products that we use on a daily basis. They constitute the basic components of a science branch, Chemistry, owing to their widespread use and applications. Both of them are associated with certain distinct properties that helps us to distinguish them from each other.

Acid vs Base

“The main difference between acids and bases is that their pH ranges are different. Acids have a pH value of less than seven in an aqueous solution. On the other hand, pH value of more than seven is observed in the case of bases.”

Difference Between Acid and Base

Acids are the chemical compound or substances that release hydronium ions (H+) ions when dissolved in water. They react with bases to form salt and exists in all three physical forms but as solids most of the time. They are sour in taste. Examples of acids are Acetic acid (CH3COOH), Sulphuric acid (H2SO4).

Bases are the chemical species, which release hydroxide ions (OH) in the aqueous solution. They react with acids forming salt and give a solid appearance with ammonia being an exception that remains in gaseous form. They are bitter in taste and a bit slippery as well. Examples of bases are Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), Ammonia (NH3).

 Comparison Table Between Acid and Base

Parameters of ComparisonAcidBase
StrengthDepends upon the concentration of hydrogen ionsDepends upon the concentration of hydroxide ions
pH rangeLess than 7.0More than 7.0
Reaction with pH indicatorsLitmus paperBlue to redRed to blue
Methyl orangeDark redYellow
Physical characteristicsSolid/liquid/gasSolid appearance except ammonia (gaseous)
ExamplesAcetic acid, Sulphuric acid, etc.Sodium hydroxide, Ammonia, etc.

What is Acid ?

Acids are the chemical species, which elevates the concentration of hydrogen ions when dissolved in water (Arrhenius concept). Different scientists have defined them as per their own concept. Lewis termed the ions possessing vacant orbitals and accepting pair of electrons (acting as electrophiles) as the Lewis acids. In terms of Bronsted Lowry, they are the ones that donate protons.

Most of them are solids with some being corrosive as well. Acids conduct electricity (electrolytes). They yield hydrogen upon reaction with active metals such as Zn (Zinc), Mg (Magnesium), Al (Aluminium), etc.

Based on the ion dissociation into water, they are divided into two categories. Acids undergoing complete dissociation of ions into water are termed as the strong acids, for e.g.; HCl (Hydrochloric acid), HNO3 (Nitric acid). Whereas, those with partial dissociation are referred as weak acids like HF (Hydrofluoric acid). 

What is Base ?

According to Arrhenius concept, bases are the chemical species, which elevates the concentration of hydroxide ions when dissolved in water. An aqueous solution of base is also known to conduct electricity.

Lewis defined bases as the ions possessing lone pair of electrons thus acting as the nucleophiles and termed them as the Lewis bases. Bronsted Lowry concept defines them as the ones, which readily accepts the protons.

Bases have also been classified into strong bases and weak bases based on the extent of dissociation into ions in the water. Strong bases like Sodium hydroxide and Potassium hydroxide, completely dissociates into ions. However, weak bases such as Ammonia and Zinc hydroxide, undergo only partial dissociation of its ions

Main Differences Between Acid and Base

  • Acids elevates the concentration of hydrogen ions when dissolved in water whereas bases elevates the concentration of hydroxide ions into the same.
  • Acids are considered as proton donators whereas bases are denoted as proton acceptors.
  • Acids acts as electrophiles and bases as nucleophiles
  • Taste of acids is sour and that of bases is bitter.
  • Acids exist in all three forms of matter, that is, solid, liquid and gas but bases mostly give a solid appearance with ammonia being an exception.
  • Their pH range is also different. Acids and bases have a pH range of less than seven and more than seven, respectively.
  • Acids and bases give different results upon reaction with pH indicators like litmus paper, phenolphthalein and methyl orange. Acids turn litmus paper from blue to red, leaves phenolphthalein colorless and methyl orange, dark red. On the other hand, bases turn litmus paper red to blue, phenolphthalein pink and methyl orange, yellow.


Distinct properties of acids and bases have been thoroughly studied and revised from time to time by the researchers and scientists across the world. It is extremely significant to do so not just because these chemical forms are the very base of chemistry. But also due to their huge and widespread applications all along the length and breadth of various fields of sciences like  pharmaceutical sciences, material sciences, etc.