buffer


buffer

Solution usually containing a weak acid and its conjugate weak base, or a salt, of such a composition that the pH is held constant within a certain range. An example is a solution containing acetic acid (CHCOOH) and the acetate ion (CHCOO). The pH depends on their relative concentration and can be found with a simple formula involving their ratio. Relatively small additions of acid or base will change the concentration of the two species, but their ratio, and hence the pH, will not change much. Different buffers are useful in different pH ranges; they include phosphoric acid, citric acid, and boric acid, each with their salts. Biological fluids such as blood, tears, and semen have natural buffers to maintain them at the pH required for their proper function. See also law of mass action.

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