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RE: Sources for chemicals -- Dropping One's Aitches in Public

> Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2002 06:24:49 -0800 (PST)
> From: Scott Hieber

> Which reminded me of a question:  Can a chemist
> out there explain the difference between NaH2CO3
> and NaHCO3, both of which are given as the
> 'chemical formula' for 'Sodium Bicarbonate?'...

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as sodium hydrogen carbonate to the non-US
participants (and it _is_ a more straight-forward representation,) is
properly shorthanded to NaHCO3.

The sodium and hydrogen ions combine to complete the carbonate's double
valence requirement. Adding another proton would make for an acidic ion, as
it would carry not only the proton but its extra charge as well. And since
the valence for the carbonate group is filled, I can't think of a simplistic
way to attach the extra in the first place.

Sodium carbonate, without the "bi-", is Na2CO3. This compound is formed by
replacing the hydrogen ion with another sodium, of course, but the point to
illustrate is that it still takes only two single valence ions to do the


David A. Youngker
nestor10 at mindspring_com