f. Acids and Bases of Medicinal Importance. One may come in contact with
a number of important acids and bases. You must be able to identify them as acids or
bases and know their relative strengths. Table 2-1 shows these acids and bases.
There is not an easy way to differentiate between strong and weak acids, but strong and
weak bases can be differentiated based on valence. Strong bases have a positive
valence of one; weak bases have a positive valence greater than one.
g. Safety and Antidotes. Acids and bases should be handled with care to
avoid spilling on skin. They should not be taken internally unless intended for that
purpose. If the skin is exposed to these compounds or is ingested, the following
antidotes are recommended for first aid treatment.
(a) External. Use large amounts of water to wash acids off the skin.
Exception: If phenol (an organic acid) is spilled on the skin, wash off with alcohol.
(b) Internal. Give an antacid, other than a carbonate or bicarbonate,
such as milk of magnesia or magnesium oxide. DO NOT give an emetic or induce
(a) External. Wash the area with large amounts of water.
(b) Internal. Give a weak acid such as vinegar or fruit juice. Weak
acids (or weak bases) are only effective if administered within 10-15 minutes of
ingestion of strong base (or strong acid). DO NOT give an emetic or induce vomiting.
Previously, it has been stated that one of the properties associated with acids
and bases is the neutralization reaction. This reaction involves the production of a salt
and water from the reaction of an acid and a base. We will now examine various types
of salts produced in neutralization reactions. Salts are the third major classification of
inorganic compounds (acids and bases being the first two). They are important in the
physiology of the body and are often used as therapeutic agents.
a. Definition. We have already given one definition of a salt in our discussion,
that is, the product of a reaction between an acid and a base. A more specific
definition, however, would be an ionic compound formed by the replacement of part or
all of the acid hydrogen of an acid by a metal or a radical acting like a metal. It is an
ionic compound that contains a positive ion other than hydrogen and a negative ion
other than hydroxyl (OH-) or "O-2," as in MgO.