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Experiment: Osmosis in Potato Cells

What is the effect of varying NaCL concentration on potatoes?

Osmosis is the passive movement of water molecules, across a partially

permeable membrane, from a region of lower solute concentration to a
region of higher solute concentration. Solutions that are involved in this
process include hypotonic, hypertonic and isotonic solutions. A hypotonic
solution has a higher osmotic pressure (higher amount of solute) than
another solution, while a hypertonic solution has a lower osmotic pressure
(lower amount of solute) than another solution. An Isotonic solution has the
same solute concentration in both solutions.

As the concentration of salt increases, the mass of the potato will decrease.
This is because the potato is less concentrated than the salt solution, hence
water will pass through the selectively permeable membrane into the much-
concentrated solution. However, when there is no salt concentration, the
mass of the potato will increase. This is because the water has a weaker
concentration than the potato and thus will pass the selectively permeable
membrane through osmosis.

Independent Variable: NaCL Concentration

Dependent Variable: Change in Mass

Controlled Variable How?

Potato cylinder size, 5 potato cylinders cut of
number and shape 2cm thickness
Temperature Room Temperature
Time 24 Hours


1 Large Potato
10 x 250 ml beakers
Sodium Chloride Solutions(0.1,0.2,0.3,0.4,0.5,0.6,0.8,1.0M)
1 Marker
1 forceps
1 balance
Paper towels
1 ruler
Distilled Water
1 cork borer
1 razor blade/scalpel
9 Petri Dishes/Small Beakers


1. Weigh 23.376g NaCL and place in a measuring cylinder

2. Add 150ml of water and stir to dissolve
3. Add more distilled water to the 200ml mark
4. Mix Well
5. Label as 2.0M NaCL solution
6. Repeat previous steps but use distilled water instead of NaCL and
label as 0.0M NaCL solution.
7. Use a cork borer to bore into the longest side of a potato
8. Using a scalpel accurately cut five 2cm thick potato cylinders for each
of the NaCl solutions you are investigating.
9. Obtain 3 petri dishes and label them with the molarity of the various
NaCl solutions.
10.Obtain a weighing scale and tare to 0.
11.Pick the 5 potato discs and blot them tightly with tissue to remove
excess water and weigh each at a time to the nearest 0. 01g.Record
this as the initial mass of potato cylinders.
12.Immediately transfer the discs to one of the containers labeled above.
Cover with the corresponding NaCL solution.
13.Leave the set ups overnight, slightly blot out the excess solution and
reweigh the cylinder. Record this mass to the nearest 0.01g as the final
mass of the potato cylinders.

Quantitative Data

Salt Initial Final Change in Percentage

Concentration Mass(g) Mass(g) Mass Change
0.0 1.35 1.76 0.41 30%
0.25 1.02 1.15 0.13 13%
0.5 1.22 1.12 -0.10 -8
1.0 1.88 1.42 -0.46 -24%
1.5 1.78 1.49 -0.29 -16%
2.0 1.34 1.15 -0.19 14%

Qualitative Data

Salt Final Appearance

0.0 Much thicker, heavier and larger

1.0 Turned grey, bends, soft squeaky

1.5 Squeakier, softer

2.0 Softer, smaller, dark brown

We can conclude that this experiment has strongly supported my hypothesis.
This is evident by the increase of the mass of the potato that was in a
solution without any salt concentration. It increased by 30%. However, the
potatoes that were in salt concentrated solutions lost mass, which again
supports my hypothesis. The potato that was in the 2.0M salt concentration
had lost mass by 17%.

Evaluation Effect Improvement

Each group only did 2 Preparation of solution Carry out all the 6 salt
salt solutions concentrations per
Inaccurate lengths of Measurement of potato Set a specific length for
potato cylinders cylinder length may all of the potato
have different cylinders
Study the length of
potato cylinders
Inaccurate molar Observations and Carefully create the
solution concentration results may be appropriate molar
unreliable solution concentrations

Only used a potato Could hinder the results Could investigate the
that would arise from effect of varying salt
other vegetables and solution concentration
fruits on the mass of other
fruits and vegetables
such as apples.