# Why are acid base neutralization reactions exothermic? What does the strength of the acid have to do with it?

Jul 25, 2016

Acid base neutralization involves the formation of a salt and water. Such a process is inevitably exothermic.

#### Explanation:

Bond-breaking is endothermic, whereas bond formation is exothermic. Whether a given reaction is exothermic or endothermic depends on the balance between bond-breaking and bond-making.

In the generalized acid base reaction, as shown below, we form 2 substances, salt and water, whose formation should be intrinsically exothermic:

$\text{Acid" + "base" rarr "salt" + "water" + "energy}$

And for an obvious example...

${\underbrace{H C l \left(a q\right) + N a O H \left(a q\right)}}_{\text{ acid + base" rarr underbrace(NaCl(aq) +H_2O(l))_" salt + water}}$

The reaction is exothermic because we make strong $O - H$ bonds, and thus the stronger the acid, the farther to the right this reaction should be driven. In practice, the water solvent exercises a moderating effect, and the energy released by the reaction of strong acids and strong bases should be similar.