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Base

Like an acid, a base is a substance capable of dissolving things. Here is a scientific explanation of what a base is:

A base is a substance which accepts a proton from another species in a reaction. (Here, "accept" is a passive term for what really happens. A base attacks and "rips" a proton from a substance which has any capability of giving it away. Thus a base accepts a proton the way a thief "accepts" your purse). Bases are classified as either strong or weak depending upon their relative ability to do this. When it does this, it changes the substance it attacks into a different substance.

There are many bases. Here are a few: Ammonia (used as a cleaner), Calcium hydroxide (used in mortar for construction), Magnesium hydroxide (otherwise known as milk of magnesia; used as a laxative or antacid), Sodium hydroxide (used as an oven cleaner).

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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Nitric Acid - HNO3

Nitric acid is a very strong acid that can burn your skin. Nitric acid has nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms in it. There is a very tiny bit of nitric acid gas in Earth's atmosphere. Nitric acid is...more

Sulfuric Acid - H2SO4

Sulfuric acid is a very common type of acid. Acid rain has sulfuric acid in it. Acid rain harms plants, fish, and other living things. A type of air pollution causes acid rain. When people burn fossil...more

Methane - CH4

Methane is a kind of gas. There is a small amount of methane in the air you breathe. A methane molecule has carbon and hydrogen atoms in it. Methane is a greenhouse gas. That means it helps make Earth...more

Ammonia - NH3

Ammonia is a kind of gas. Ammonia molecules (NH3) have hydrogen and nitrogen atoms in them. The air you breathe has a tiny bit of ammonia in it. When plants and animals die and decay, they give off ammonia....more

Nitrogen

There is more nitrogen gas in the air than any other kind of gas. About 4/5ths of Earth's atmosphere is nitrogen gas! A molecule of nitrogen gas is made up of two nitrogen atoms. There are other molecules...more

Oxygen

Oxygen (O2) is a kind of gas. A lot of the air you breathe is oxygen. That's a good thing, since we need oxygen to stay alive! About 4/5ths of the air in Earth's atmosphere is nitrogen (N2). Almost all...more

Hydrogen Peroxide - H2O2

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a kind of chemical. A molecule of hydrogen peroxide has oxygen and hydrogen atoms in it. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid. Hydrogen peroxide is in some liquids that are used...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA