AskDefine | Define carbonate

Dictionary Definition

carbonate n : a salt or ester of carbonic acid (containing the anion CO3)


1 treat with carbon dioxide; "Carbonated soft drinks"
2 turn into a carbonate

User Contributed Dictionary



From carbonate.


  • (noun):
    • (RP): käʹbənət, /ˈkɑːbənət/, /"kA:b@n@t/
    • (US): kärʹbənət, /ˈkɑrbənət/, /"kArb@n@t/
  • (verb):
    • (RP): käʹbənāt, /ˈkɑːbəneɪt/, /"kA:b@neIt/
    • (US): kärʹbənāt, /ˈkɑrbəneɪt/, /"kArb@neIt/


  1. any salt or ester of carbonic acid



From carbonatem, from carbo.


fr-noun m





  1. Plural of carbonata

Extensive Definition

In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt or ester of carbonic acid.


To test for the presence of the carbonate anion in a salt, the addition of dilute mineral acid (e.g. hydrochloric acid) will yield carbon dioxide gas.
Carbonate-containing salts are industrially and mineralogically ubiquitous. The term "carbonate" is also commonly used to refer to one of these salts or carbonate minerals. Most common is calcite, or calcium carbonate, the chief constituent of limestone. The process of removing carbon dioxide from these salts by heating is called calcination.
The term is also used as a verb, to describe the process of raising carbonate and bicarbonate concentrations in soda, see also carbonated water, either by the introduction under pressure of carbon dioxide gas into the bottle, or by dissolving carbonate or bicarbonate salts into the water.

Chemical properties

The carbonate ion is a polyatomic anion with the empirical formula CO32− and a molecular mass of 60.01 daltons; it consists of one central carbon atom surrounded by three identical oxygen atoms in a trigonal planar arrangement. The carbonate ion carries a negative two formal charge and is the conjugate base of the hydrogen carbonate ion, HCO3−, which is the conjugate base of H2CO3, carbonic acid.
A carbonate salt forms when a positively charged ion attaches to the negatively charged oxygen atoms of the ion, forming an ionic compound. Most carbonate salts are insoluble in water at standard temperature and pressure, with solubility constants of less than 1×10−8. Exceptions include sodium, potassium and ammonium carbonates.
In aqueous solution, carbonate, bicarbonate, carbon dioxide, and carbonic acid exist together in a dynamic equilibrium. In strongly basic conditions, the carbonate ion predominates, while in weakly basic conditions, the bicarbonate ion is prevalent. In more acid conditions, aqueous carbon dioxide, CO2(aq), is the main form, which, with water, H2O, is in equilibrium with carbonic acid - the equilibrium lies strongly towards carbon dioxide. Thus sodium carbonate is basic, sodium bicarbonate is weakly basic, while carbon dioxide itself is a weak acid.
Carbonated water is formed by dissolving CO2 in water under pressure. When the partial pressure of CO2 is reduced, for example when a can of soda is opened, the equilibrium for each of the forms of carbonate (carbonate, bicarbonate, carbon dioxide, and carbonic acid) shifts until the concentration of CO2 in the solution is equal to the solubility of CO2 at that temperature and pressure. In living systems an enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, speeds the interconversion of CO2 and carbonic acid.
In organic chemistry a carbonate can also refer to a functional group within a larger molecule that contains a carbon atom bound to three oxygen atoms, one which is double bonded. The VSEPR shape of the carbonate ion is trigonal planar or triplanar.

Acid-base chemistry

The carbonate ion (CO32−) is a moderately strong base. It is a conjugate base of the weakly acidic bicarbonate (IUPAC name hydrogen carbonate HCO3−), itself a moderately strong conjugate base of the still weakly acidic carbonic acid. As such in aqueous solution, the carbonate ion seeks to reclaim hydrogen atoms.

Biological Significance

It works as a buffer in the blood as follows: when pH is too low, the concentration of hydrogen ions is too high, so you exhale CO2. This will cause the equation to shift left, essentially decreasing the concentration of H+ ions, causing a more basic pH.
When pH is too high, the concentration of hydrogen ions in the blood is too low, so the kidneys excrete bicarbonate (HCO3−). This causes the equation to shift right, essentially increasing the concentration of hydrogen ions, causing a more acidic pH.

Carbonate salts

  • Carbonate overview:


It is generally thought that the presence of carbonates in rock is unequivocal evidence for the presence of liquid water. Recent observations of the Planetary nebula NGC 6302 shows evidence for carbonates in space, where aqueous alteration similar to that on Earth is unlikely. Other minerals have been proposed which would fit the observations.
Significant carbonate deposits have not been found on Mars via remote sensing or in situ missions, even though Martian meteorites contain small amounts and groundwater may have existed at both Gusev and Meridiani Planum.


See also

carbonate in Catalan: Carbonat
carbonate in Czech: Uhličitan
carbonate in Danish: Karbonat
carbonate in German: Carbonate
carbonate in Spanish: carbonato
carbonate in Estonian: Karbonaadid
carbonate in Esperanto: Karbonato
carbonate in French: Carbonate
carbonate in Italian: Carbonati
carbonate in Latvian: Karbonāti
carbonate in Macedonian: Карбонат
carbonate in Dutch: Carbonaat
carbonate in Norwegian Nynorsk: Karbonat
carbonate in Polish: Węglany
carbonate in Russian: Карбонаты
carbonate in Simple English: Carbonate
carbonate in Slovak: Uhličitan
carbonate in Serbian: Карбонат
carbonate in Finnish: Karbonaatti
carbonate in Turkish: Karbonat
carbonate in Ukrainian: Карбонати
carbonate in Chinese: 碳酸盐

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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