Difference Between Alkali and Base

An alkali is a chemical compound that is a type of base.  When dipped in water it becomes a solution.

In essence, all alkalis are bases but not the other way.

When an alkali is added to any other acid the PH increases. In contrast, when an acid is added to an alkali the PH decreases due to the removal of alkali.

Alkali vs Base

The main difference between alkali and base is that alkali dissolves in the water fast. Bases, on the other hand, do not dissolve in water.

Alkali vs Base

Alkali metals are soft, shiny, and not very heavy. They have a weak metallic bond and that is why they are soft.

They can easily be sliced into two using a knife.

A base is a substance used to neutralize acids. Metal oxides and metal hydroxides are examples of bases that form neutral products with acids.

Bases are slippery and bitter when you taste. They produce molecules and water when they react with acids.


Comparison Table Between Alkali and Base (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonAlkaliBase
CompoundsIt consists of carbonates and hydroxides of alkali metalsAny compound that consists of a hydroxide class that can be free. Or compounds that accept protons or lone electron pairs.
DefinitionThe term alkali is used to refer to metals found in group 1 of the periodic tableA base is a compound that consists of hydroxide ions or lone electron pairs. The electron pairs can be transferred to another chemical species
Ionic Compound FormationAlkali forms ionic compounds through forming cations from alkali metalsBases can either form covalent or ionic compounds
Chemical categoryBelongs to group 1 metals or their ionic compoundsTheir chemical category is any compound either ionic or covalent
StrengthThe strength of alkali can be strong or weak depending on the nature and concentration of the ionic salt composing itThe strength of the base depends on the concentration of hydroxide ions.


What is Alkali?

Alkalis are chemical compounds. They contain one electron in their outermost layer of electrons.

To get rid of the outermost electron from an alkali metal require less energy.

Ionization energy is the energy required to remove an electron from the outer shell of alkali.

They are soft metals as a result of the metallic bonding. As such, you can cut them using a knife.

Still, they have low boiling and melting points.

Alkalis are reactive metals. They are kept in solutions such as kerosene to prevent them from reacting with the atmosphere.

When burning with oxygen, they form colored flames.

The density of alkali metals is lower compared to other metals. And they are good conductors of heat and electricity.


What is Base?

A base is a substance that is used to neutralize the acid. They may or may not be soluble in water. Those that dissolve in water are known as alkalis.

Bases are bitter to taste and this is a feature of all bases. And just like acids, they can be strong or weak.

Those that are strong can burn the skin and are very corrosive.  

NaOH is an example of a strong base while NH3 is an example of a weak base. Bases are slippery in nature but bitter in taste.

When they react with acid they produce water and salt molecules.

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Main Differences Between Alkali and Base


The base is a substance that will increase OH-ions concentration when dissolved in water. When an alkali is dissolved in water, the solution produced is transparent.

The solution can also have a repellent smell. But again it depends on the amount of water, an alkali, and the PH value of the alkali.

Physical Characteristics

Alkali physical and chemical characteristics are the same. They are soft and can be cut using a knife. They have low melting points and low densities. For instance, sodium, potassium, and lithium are low to float on water.

Bases are bitter when you taste. Apart from ammonia, the rest are odorless. They are slippery and react with fats and oils.


Alkalis are used to soften water and get rid of organic tannins, fluorides, and other impurities. They are used to neutralize the pH levels of water. Alkali is applied to maintain the sewage sludge and reduce odor.

They are used in industrial applications and mining operations to wastewater to help improve visibility. This also helps to remove phosphorus and nitrogen.

Sodium chloride which is an alkali is used kitchens as table salt. Bases are used in gastric medicine, soaps, detergents, and cleansers.

They are also used as a non-hazardous alkali to neutralize acidic wastewater. Furthermore, they are used in antiperspirant armpit deodorant.


Bases have a bitter taste and a slippery feeling like that of soap. They react with acids to produce water and salt molecules. Ammonia, baking soda, and caustic soda are the common bases.

Alkalis are silvery color metals that are shiny and soft. Their outside shell is covered by one electron. When removed, they form +1 cations.

Dissociation when mixed with water

When bases are mixed with water they dissociate to give free hydrogen ion (OH-).  Alkalis, on the other hand, when mixed with water they react violently. The reaction produces hydrogen gas and a strongly alkaline solution known as base.

Difference Between Alkali and Base



The reaction between alkali metal is dangerous. But at the same time, it is one that is exciting.

It is because the release of energy is triggered by the easy removal of an electron from an alkali metal.

Since an alkali is a product of a base and formed from a base, there are a lot of similarities. But there are some differences between the two as well.

The two terms are used interchangeably but the fact remains they are different terms.

The main difference between alkali and a base is that alkali elements are group 1 elements. Bases are categorized as elements or compounds having key characteristics.



  1. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/54192/LD5655.V856_1989.H373.pdf?sequence=1
  2. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/1995/c3/c39950001005
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