Tips on remembering strong acids & bases

Written by will milner
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Tips on remembering strong acids & bases
Use mnemonics to help remember the strong acids and bases. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

When it comes to memorising lists, it's all about mnemonics: rhymes, songs or mental pictures. The sillier, more visual and more memorable the device, the better for remembering. These techniques are very easy to use with strong acids and bases because of the letter codes for the elements used to form the compounds.

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Basic Mnemonic for Strong Acids

You can come up with your own mnemonic for memorising the acids simply by writing a short passage. Using just the first or several letters from each acid to begin a word from the rhyme or saying. An example to follow is, "He Could Have Been Her Ideal Neighborhood Cutie She Purred." It stands for "Hydrochloric Hydrobromic Hydroiodic Nitric Chloric Sulfuric Perchloric." Make an image of the story this passage might describe and associate it mentally with the image of a strong acid.

Basic Mnemonic for Strong Bases

The same technique can be done for strong bases. Try this one: "Larry Never Killed Real Cats Carly Said Boldly," stands for, "Lithium Sodium Potassium Rubidium Cesium Calcium Strontium Barium." They are all hydroxides, so you have no need to think of a technique for remembering that part.

Visual Mnemonic for Acids

If remembering sequences of words is not a strength of yours, then use the starting letters of the names of the acids to think of a list of objects starting with the same letter. You can use the following: Hand cream (hydrochloric); holly bush (hydrobromic); hot iron (hydroiodic); nail (nitric); cat (chloric); sausage (sulphuric); peach (perchloric). Now imagine these objects arranged on the wall in your house. Imagine walking by them, seeing them, and remembering the meaning of each.

Visual Mnemonic For Bases

Do the same as above, but this time use animals: Lion (lithium); shark (sodium); panda (potassium); rhino (rubidium); chameleon (caesium); camel (calcium); stork (strontium); bat (barium).

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