In the mammalian digestive system HCl is the main acid and bile is the main alkali. What is the product of the reaction between these two chemicals?

  • $\begingroup$ HCl is neutralised by the bicarbonate in the pancreatic juice. I dont think it'd form any products of reaction with bile $\endgroup$
    – Polisetty
    Jul 17, 2016 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Polisetty On the Wikipedia page for bile it specifically says that bile is alkaline and that it neutralizes excess stomach acid. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ General chemistry questions are off-topic here, but can be asked on Chemistry. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Jul 17, 2016 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


It's a simple acid-base-reaction. In order for bile to do its job, i.e work as an emulsifier, it needs to in a basic environment. Bile acids are therefore in their charged, negative state.

The reaction of HCl with bile acid would then be.

[BILE]-COO- + HCl --> BILE-COOH + Cl-

In the human body the reaction would be:

[BILE]-COO- + H3O+ --> BILE-COOH + H2O

There will be hardly any free HCl in the human body, it will immediately react with water to form H3O+ and Cl-. H3O+ will then react with ionized bile acid to give the neutral form of bile acid and water.

So, depending on how you look at it, the product is neutral bile acid and (water or chloride).

  • $\begingroup$ That is very interesting. What is "bilic acid"? When I do a web search on bilic acid it does not return any useful results. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2016 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ What are bilic acids? A typo, I meant bile acids. The answer was updated accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – Ashafix
    Jul 17, 2016 at 13:56

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