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  Section: Plant Protocol » Environmental Science Methodology
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Determination of Acidity of Water

To determine the acidity of the given sample of water.

Principle Acidity of water is its quantitative capacity to neutralise a strong base to a designated pH. Strong minerals acids, weak acids such as carbonic and acetic and hydrolysing salts such as ferric and aluminium sulphates may contribute to the measured acidity. According to the method of determination, acidity is important because acid contributes to corrosiveness and influences certain chemical and biological processes. It is the measure of the amount of base required to neutralise a given sample to the specific pH.

Hydrogen ions present in a sample as a result of dissociation or hydrolysis of solutes are neutralised by titration with standard alkali. The acidity thus depends upon the end point pH or indicator used. Dissolved CO2 is usually the major acidity component of unpolluted surface water. In the sample, containing only carbon dioxide-bicarbonatecarbonate, titration to pH 8.3 at 25°C corresponds to stoichiometric neutralisation of carbonic acid to carbonate. Since the colour change of phenolphthalein indicator is close to pH 8.3, this value is accepted as a standard end point for the titration of total acidity. For more complex mixture or buffered solution fixed end point of pH 3.7 and pH 8.3 are used. Thus, for standard determination of acidity of wastewater and natural water, methyl orange acidity (pH 3.7) and phenolphthalein acidity (pH 8.3) are used.

Thus, in determining the acidity of the sample the volumes of standard alkali required to bring about colour change at pH 8.3 and at pH 3.7 are determined.

  1. Burette
  2. Pipette
  3. Erlenmeyer flasks
  4. Indicator solutions
Reagents (» click to check the preparation of reagents)
  1. CO2 free water
  2. Standard NaOH solution 0.02N
  3. Methyl orange indicator solution
  4. Phenolphthalein indicator solution
  5. Sodium thiosulphate 0.1 N.
  1. 25 mL of sample is pipette into Erlenmeyer flask.
  2. If free residual chlorine is present, 0.05 mL (1 drop) of 0.1 N thiosulphate solution is added.
  3. 2 drops of methyl orange indicator is added.
  4. These contents are titrated against 0.02 N hydroxide solution. The end point is noted when colour change from orange red to yellow.
  5. Then two drops of phenolphthalein indicator is added and titration continued till a pink colour just develops. The volumes of the titrant used are noted down.

0.02 N NaOH Sample (Methyl orange/phenolphthalein indicator)

Acidity in mg/L as CaCO3 = A x B x 50,000

A = mL of NaOH titrant
B = normality of NaOH
V = mL of the sample.



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