When Beer Introduces Scientific Concepts: Welcome to the pH

Where does it come from, what does it mean, what does it measure and how do you measure it?

The origins of pH

In 1893, Soren Sorensen, a Danish chemist, was asked by the Carlsberg Laboratory to identify the best method for making quality beer.

Soren Sorensen asked himself the question: "How does the production of enzymes from proteins work?" He quickly realized that the concentration of hydrogen ions had a major impact on the creation of enzymes for the production of quality beer. After this realization, he introduced the concept of pH and a pH concentration scale to determine whether a solution is acidic or basic.

What Is pH?

To begin, pH is an abbreviation for "hydrogen potential." Based on a scale of 0 to 14 and being logarithmic in magnitude, this simple identification technique makes it easy to understand a very complex chemical phenomenon.

In this situation, the logarithmic property of pH is explained as follows: a solution with pH=6 will be 10 times more acidic than a solution with pH=7 and a solution with pH=5 will be 100 times more acidic than a solution with pH=7 and so on.

What does pH measure?

The measurement of the pH is used to identify the number of hydrogen ions present in an aqueous or other solution, such as soil. In general, the concentration of hydrogen ions will be between 1 and 10-14 grams per litre.

Pure water, which is considered neutral, has a hydrogen concentration of 10-7 grams per litre, which corresponds to a pH=7.

In other words, an acidic solution contains more hydronium ions while a basic solution has more hydroxide ions.

How to measure the pH

Generally speaking, there are two techniques for identifying the pH of an aqueous solution. To begin with, the most common and simplest technique is the use of litmus paper or pH paper, which changes colour according to the pH of the solution. Although this technique is not the most accurate, it is effective, fast and simple. For more accurate results, the use of a pH electrode connected to a pH meter can provide more precise results on the concentration of hydrogen ions.


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