What type of compound often tastes bitter?

1 Answer
Jul 20, 2016

Bases, but don't test this for yourself.


Historically, chemists and apothecaries used to taste the new compounds that they made. This is clearly not a practice that should be encouraged in the modern laboratory. Why not?

It turns out that most of the things we eat that taste good, i.e. wine, cheese, beer, butter, are all slightly acidic. On the other hand, things that are slightly basic tend to taste soapy and bitter, and not at all flavoursome.

The most basic (i.e. most alkaline) thing that we eat is quite probably egg white (#pH ~=8)#. Its soapiness and bitterness, and the puckering effect on the tongue, are characteristic of a base.