When an acid reacts with a base it produces salt plus water. An alkali is a base dissolved in water. The salt you put on your food is sodium chloride, though it may have had a tiny bit of sodium iodide added to it. Read on, and you will see that there are many different kinds of salt.

Examples of acids:

Hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, acetic acid (vinegar) and phosphoric acid.

Examples of bases:

Sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, sodium oxide, potassium oxide and magnesium oxide.

Acid + Base = Salt + Water
Acid + Metal = Salt + Hydrogen

Examples of salts:

Sodium chloride, potassium sulphate, silver nitrate, calcium phosphate.

You can see that all salts have a metal part (sodium, silver, etc.) and a non metal part(chloride, sulphate, phosphate, etc). The salts made with hydrochloric acid are chlodrides: the salts made with sulphuric acid are sulphates: the salts made with acetic acid are acetates: and so on.

The difference between a chloride and a chlorate is the chlorides do NOT contain any oxygen and chlorates do have oxygen. Sulphates have more oxygen than sulphites.

Once you learn a few rules, you will find that naming salts is actually quite easy.

Here are a few examples:

Hydrogen sulphide (dissolved in water is an acid) makes sulphides.
Sulphurous acid makes sulphites.
Sulphuric acid makes sulphates.

Many salts are colourless (white is NOT a colour), but the salts of some metals have fantastic colours: Copper salts are either blue or green. You may have seen the lovely green colour that sheets of copper have on a building’s roof. Carbonic acid in rain has turned the surface of the copper into copper carbonate.

The wonderful colours in fireworks are produced by adding a little bit of metal to the explosive mixture in the firework.

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