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In lecture, Dr. Lavelle did an example using Ba(OH)2 to show that Kw, a special value of Ka, can be used to determine [H3O+]. Why is this possible? Don't all aqueous reactions have different Ka values, so shouldn't Ba2+ affect the value of Ka/Kw?
Ba2+ is the cation of a strong base, so when it dissociates it will not affect the pH of the solution. Kw refers to the equilibrium constant for water, and shows how water has a neutral pH of 7. So the OH will increase the pH which changes the Kb and therefore allows us to calculate the Ka using Kw=(Ka)(Kb)=1.0x10^-14.
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