Alka-Seltzer Background
Product information:
Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid used for the relief of headache, heartburn, and hangovers
while neutralizing excess stomach acid.
Alka-Seltzer is a combination of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3)-
which is baking soda, and citric acid. This solution is designed to treat pain as well as neutralize
excess stomach acid. It is made on the form of large effervescent tablets which are dissolved in
water. As the tablets dissolve, the base (bicarbonate) and the acid (citric acid) react with each
other producing carbon dioxide gas (which is where the “Seltzer” comes from). This produces
enough agitation or action in the solution to allow the active ingredients (aspirin) to dissolve
slowly. Then solution is then ingested for digestion relief.
Chemistry of the effervescence:
Though important to the overall effect of the medication, the aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) does
not contribute to the effervescent action of Alka-Seltzer; the effervescence is produced by the
baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and the citric acid reacting to form sodium citrate and carbon
dioxide gas. The chemical reaction for this is as follows.
C6H8O7 + 3NaHCO3 → 3H2O + 3CO2 + Na3C6H5 O7
citric acid + baking soda → water + carbon dioxide + socium citrate
Uses of Alka-Seltzer:
It is used as an antacid to treat indigestion
Drop 2 tablets in the toilet and wait 20 minutes, brush and flush. The effervescence action cleans
the toilet
Cleans vases, polishes jewelry and removes the burned-on grease from a pot or pan
Unclogs drains
Soothes insect bites
Factors that affect the rates of chemical reactions:
It is helpful to predict whether an action will affect the rate at which a chemical reaction
proceeds. There are several factors that can influence the rate of a chemical reaction.
Concentration of reactants:
Concentration means a higher amount of the reactants, or more simply put-more of the stuff that
is causing the chemical reaction! If there are more reactant, there are more particles to collide, or
bump into each other, which will make the reaction go faster.
Usually, an increase in temperature is accompanied by an increase in the reaction rate. An
increase in temperature causes the molecules to move faster, which will cause the reaction to
happen faster.
Environment reaction takes place in:
The kind of solution the reaction takes place in can affect the rate of reaction. Many reactions
happen faster in a liquid, rather than in a solid or a gas.
Presence of a catalyst:
A catalyst is something that is added to a reaction that can either speed up or slow down a
reaction, but is not part of the reaction. It is like coating a baking pan with oil before baking a
cake. It is not one of the ingredients needed to bake a cake, but it sure makes it easier to get it
out of the pan, and helps the cake bake without burning the bottom. Sometimes chemicals, or
catalysts are added to speed up or slow down a reaction so that the resulting products are made
more efficiently. Like a better cake!

Source: http://goddard.littletonpublicschools.net/Portals/12/8th%20grade/Background%20Information%20Alka-Seltzer.pdf

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