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Henderson-Hasselbalch Equation

Lawrence Joseph Henderson wrote an equation, in 1908, describing the use of carbonic acid as a buffer solution. Karl Albert Hasselbalch later re-expressed that formula in logarithmic terms, resulting in the Henderson–Hasselbalch equation.11,12 Hasselbalch was using the formula to study metabolic acidosis.

The Henderson-Hasselbalch equation (Equation 1) is used to calculate the pH of a system using the pKa (logarithm of the acid dissociation constant Ka) of the acidic species in solution.  It has many applications and can be used to determine the pH of a solution, calculate the molar ratio of acid and salt required to form a buffer of a particular pH, and give an estimate of the value of the pKa of a species if the pH and concentration of the acid and salt components are known.

The Henderson-Hasselbalch equation is derived from the acid dissociation (Ka) constant as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Equation 1
 

For buffers:
[A-] = concentration of salt
[HA] = concentration of acid

 
 
 
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