Chemistry - Why does an acid have a low pH value?

Solution 1:

Actually in pH the p is for potenz or power of hydrogen. The concentration of proton $(\rm H^+\equiv H_3O^+)$ in water is often $10^{-3},10^{-5},10^{-14}$ which is very tedious to write, so pH is defined as $3,5,14$ for these solutions. Or: $$\rm [H^+]=10^{-pH}\iff \log_{10}[H^+]=-pH\iff pH=-\log_{10}[H^+]$$

Note that pH scale and proton concentration works in reverse direction, one increases so the other decreases.

The pH Scale at normal room temperature is from 0 to 14 (debatable) and 7 is neutral (no excess proton or no deficiency of proton) and 0-7 is acidic (excess proton) wheras 7-14 is basic (deficiency of proton). This is defined because purest form of water at this temperature has pH 7 and pH more than this (and hence concentration of proton less than this) is caused by bases which take up proton and and pH less than this (and hence concentration of proton more than this) is caused by acids which release proton.

Solution 2:

I am very old and maybe something changed : pH ( nothing to do with % ) used to be " negative the log ( base 10) of the hydrogen ion concentration in g-moles per liter of water" . Because it is a negative, the smaller the pH the greater the number on hydrogen ions. So pH of 1 means a lot of H ions and pH 13 means much fewer H ions.