In chemistry, pH is a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. Acidic solutions have a lower pH, while basic solutions have a higher pH. At room temperature (25°C or 77°F), pure water is neither acidic nor basic and has a pH of 7.
The pH scale is logarithmic and inversely indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution (a lower pH indicates a higher concentration of hydrogen ions). This is because the formula used to calculate pH approximates the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the molar concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution. More precisely, pH is the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the activity of the hydrogen ion.
At 25 °C, solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic. The neutral value of the pH depends on the temperature, being lower than 7 if the temperature increases. The pH value can be less than 0 for very strong acids, or greater than 14 for very strong bases.
The pH scale is traceable to a set of standard solutions whose pH is established by international agreement. Primary pH standard values are determined using a concentration cell with transference, by measuring the potential difference between a hydrogen electrode and a standard electrode such as the silver chloride electrode. The pH of aqueous solutions can be measured with a glass electrode and a pH meter, or a color-changing indicator. Measurements of pH are important in chemistry, agronomy, medicine, water treatment, and many other applications.
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