pH question!

Achim Recktenwald, PhD ARecktenwald at
Wed Jan 5 19:36:11 EST 2000

'pH' stands for the Latin 'pondus hydrogenium', i.e., the weight/power of

The term was coined and defined at the end of the 19th century by the Danish
chemist Sorensen (the 'o' in the name has a slash through it) and a
colleague, whose name I have forgotten.
They were  employed by the Carlsberg beer brewery in Copenhagen and  trying
to figure out the parameters causing bad brews. They discovered as one of
the most decisive parameters the hydrogen-ion concentration.

Microbiologists later discovered  that at high pH-values  yeasts do not grow
anaerobically and strains of the anaerobe bacterium Clostridium take over,
producing a rather foul smelling brew.



"Dima Klenchin" <klenchin at> wrote in
message news:850ids$i4m$1 at
> In article <947095658snz at>, Paul at
> >In article <3861193C.C13E6AD4 at> vdrake at "Vernon Drake"
> >>
> >> Could someone tell me what the letters pH stand for?  Not the
> >> or what pH is. I think it means the POWER of HYDROGEN but I am not
> >> sure.
> >> vdrake at
> >>
> >
> >I'm told this very question is answered in Trends in Biochemical
> >Sciences, January 2000 issue.  Still waiting for it to appear on
> >the web.
> >
> >-Paul
> I can't wait for the journal so I took a quick trip to a dictionary
> that has some limited etimology (
>         Main Entry: pH
>         Pronunciation: 'pE-'Ach
>         Function: noun
>         Etymology: German, from _Potenz_ power + H
>         Date: 1909
> "Power" actually does make sense (as opposed to pons).
>         - Dima

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