Eli5: What’s the difference between isotopes of Chemicals when it comes to what they do?


Quinine hydrochloride and Quinine sulfate do different things?

In: 2

The example you gave has nothing to do with isotopes, so your question isn’t clear.

In the example you have, quinine is a base, and like most bases, it’s usually given as a medication in the form of its salts (the result of reacting quinine with some acid – in your examples, hydrochloric and sulfuric acids respectively). It can sometimes matter which salt you use if some versions can be easily absorbed by body tissues and some can’t, but most of the time it doesn’t matter very much and the selection is for other reasons (like cost or shelf-stability).

Isotopes are elements with different numbers of neutrons. Isotopes do not effect chemistry…. Outside of unstable isotopes decaying into different elements, which will change chemical properties.

Hydrogen has 3 common isotopes, protium, deuterium, and tritium. In all cases it has 1 proton. Protium is 0 neutrons, deuterium is 1 neutron, and tritium is 2 neutrons. Chemically they all act as hydrogen. Tritium is unstable and one of the neutrons decays into a proton, emitting an electron. This changes it from hydrogen to helium.