The common-ion effect is a term used to describe the effect on a solution of two dissolved solutes that contain the same ion.
- If both sodium acetate and acetic acid are dissolved in the same solution they both dissociate and ionize to produce acetate ions. Sodium acetate is a strong electrolyte so it dissociates completely in solution. Acetic acid is a weak acid so it only ionizes slightly. According to Le Chatelier's principle, the addition of acetate ions from sodium acetate will suppress the ionization of acetic acid and shift its equilibrium to the left. Thus the percent dissociation of the acetic acid will decrease and the pH of the solution will increase.
- NaC2H3O2(s) → Na+(aq) + C2H3O2-(aq)
- HC2H3O2(l) ↔ H+(aq) + C2H3O2-(aq)
This will decrease the hydrogen ion concentration and thus the common-ion solution will be less acidic than a solution containing only acetic acid.