# Can H2O act as a lewis acid, lewis base, or both?

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10
Dec 29, 2015

Water can act as both a Lewis acid and a Lewis base.

#### Explanation:

Water is amphoteric: this means that it can act both as an acid and as a base. The reason for this is that water is self-ionising. Observe the following equation:

$\textcolor{red}{2} {\text{H"_2"O" rightleftharpoons "H"_3"O"^+ + "OH}}^{-}$

This reaction is reversible, because the hydronium ion (${\text{H"_3"O}}^{+}$) is a strong acid and the hydroxide ion (${\text{OH}}^{-}$) is a strong base, they will react together in the opposite direction to form water. These reactions occur according to the ionisation constant of water, ${\text{P}}_{w}$, which is $1.0 \cdot {10}^{- 14}$ at room temperature.

As mentioned above, since the hydronium and hydroxide ions are quite strong acids and bases, respectively, the self-ionisation of water allows it to function both as a Lewis acid and as a Lewis base via protonation.

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