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1. a reaction between the ions of salt and those of water to form an acid and a base, one or both of which is only slightly dissociated.
2. A process whereby a large molecule is split by the addition of water. The end products divide the water, the hydroxyl group being attached to one and the hydrogen ion to the other.
3. the splitting of a compound into two parts with the addition of the elements of water.
When sodium acetate is dissolved in water it readily dissociates into sodium and acetate ions through the process of hydrolysis. Because sodium hydroxide is a strong base, the sodium ions react only slightly with the hydroxyl ions already present in the water to form sodium hydroxide molecules. Acetic acid is a weak acid, so the acetate ions react readily with the hydrogen ions present in the water to form neutral acetic acid molecules. The net result of these reactions is a relative excess of hydroxyl ions, causing an alkaline solution.
by BelligerentF October 19, 2007