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Electrical Conductivity of Electrolytes and Non-electrolytes

Fadriquela, Danessa Loraine A.

Escorido, Leah May R.
Centeno, Gene Kylo

De La Salle University – Dasmariñas

Dasmariñas, Cavite, Philippines


Electrolytes are substances that consist of charged particles called ions. When electrolytes are
dissolved in water (or other polar solvents) they ionize into positive (cation) and negative (anion)
ions. In this experiment, you will explore what types of compounds can become electrolytes, what
determines electrolyte strength, and how electrolytes are involved in the conduction of electricity.
In any chemical reaction, the existing chemical bonds are broken and new chemical bonds are
formed. Hence, all chemical reactions are fundamentally electrical in nature since electrons are
involved in some way or the other in all types of chemical bonding. Many chemical reactions
utilize electrical energy, whereas others can be used to produce electrical energy. As electrical
energy involves the flow of electrons, these reactions are concerned with the transfer of electrons
from one substance to the other.


"Electrolysis is the electrolytic dissociation and decomposition of an electrolyte

(electrovalent substance), by the passage of a direct current or electricity through its aqueous or
molten form." The process of electrolysis is not a simple chemical reaction of mix and match. As
electricity is involved in this process, care is taken to understand and set up the apparatus as
required. In view of this, basic requirements for theoretical, experimental understanding and set
up procedures are to be studied.
Electricity results from the movement of charged particles through a conductor. The
charged particles can be either electrons or ions (positive or negative). In some cases, both types
of particles can be involved. When the movement of electricity is through a metal, the electrons
move from one metal atom to another which serves as the means for carrying the charge in the
electrical circuit. If a liquid is included as part of the electric circuit, something must carry the
charge through this solution otherwise no electrical current will flow. When a non-electrolyte is
added, no current flows. Therefore, if a light bulb is also included in an electrical circuit containing
a polar liquid, it is possible to tell whether the compound being added to the liquid is an electrolyte
or a non-electrolyte by whether or not the light bulb lights up.
The number of ions between the electrodes (degree of ionization), the number of charge
carried by each ion and the speed with which these ions travel indicates the current-carrying
capacity of a solution. Weak electrolytes are poor conductors of electric current and are solutes
having a low degree of ionization in water such as NH3 whereas solutes which are very good
conductors of electric current and in which the ionization reaction with water is nearly complete
are classified as strong electrolytes such as HCl( 2).
If the bulb of the electrical conductivity apparatus lights, then the substance is to be
classified as an electrolyte. Furthermore, it is to be classified as a weak or strong electrolyte
depending on the brightness of the bulb. However, if the bulb does not light at all, the substance
is to be classified as a non-electrolyte.


The 100 mL beakers were filled up to about 2/3 full with different liquid samples. The
electrodes of conductivity apparatus was dipped approximately 2 cm apart into the solution. The
electrolytes were washed with distilled water before dipping them into the samples. The
brightness of the bulb was observed when the electrodes were dipped into the samples.
A 6 mL of 1M ammonium hydroxide was placed in a 50 mL beaker and an equal amount
of 1M acetic acid was also placed into another 50 mL beaker. The conductivity of each solution
was tested. One drop of phenolphthalein indicator was added to 1M acetic acid and gradually
poured the 1M ammonium hydroxide solution into it while stirring until there was the appearance
of a faint pink color. The conductivity of the mixture was determined.



(1) Samonte, J.L. & Figueroa L.V. General Chemistry Laboratory Manual 3rd Edition. 2007. C&E
Publishing Inc. Quezon City. Philippines.
(2) Masterton, W.L., Slowinski, E.J., & Walford, E.T.Chem is try. 1980. Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, Publishers. United States of America