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QUANTITATIVE DETERMINATION OF SODA ASH COMPOSITION BY

DOUBLE INDICATOR TITRATION

A. FERNANDEZ1
1National Institute of Geological Sciences, College of Science
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Date Submitted: 26 June 2019
Date Performed: 21 June 2019

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS (GUIDES FOR DISCUSSION)

1. What are the possible components of soda ash sample? Why is it that some of the
components never co-exist together? What is the practical importance of analysis of soda ash
samples?
Answer:

The possible components of soda ash sample may be one or a mixture of the compounds, sodium
carbonate (NaCO3), sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). However, a combination of
NaOH and NaHCO3 cannot be observed because of its instability, and NaHCO3 is known to be an amphiprotic
species, which can act as an acid and a base. [2] A chemical reaction occurs producing a mixture of NaCO3 and
the excess reactant. Because NaHCO3 is amphoteric, which can act both as an acid and salt, it is incompatible
with NaOH; they will react to form carbonate ions:

NaOH + NaHCO3→Na2CO3 + H2O

The Bicarbonate ion, an acid, will lose its proton to give CO32-, making these two never coexist in the
solution. The analysis of soda ash during the titration with HCl in the experiment gave its alkalinity. Soda ash
nowadays are very important and are significant in several aspects in the society. They can be used in soap
products with soda ash is frequently used as a neutralizing agent. Alkalinity is commonly expressed in
percent sodium carbonate. [3]

2. What are the advantages of the double indicator method? When is it applicable?
Answer:

Using the double indicator has numerous practical advantages such as there is a lower chance of
getting random errors and the amounts of titrant can be maximized as reagents are expensive. It is mainly
applicable in determining the compounds present in a sample containing several components such as soda ash
samples which will be analyzed more efficiently and more effective which saves time as principles of chemistry
is applied.
3. What species are being neutralized under phenolphthalein and methyl orange indicator?
Answer:

For the Phenophthalein indicator, Hydroxide (OH-) and Carbonate (CO32-) were neutralized, while,
hydrogen carbonate (HCO3-) was under methyl orange indicator. [4]

4. Why is it necessary that boiled distilled water be used in the preparation of standard and
sample solutions?
Answer:

It is necessary that to use boiled distilled water as this eliminates the presence of carbon dioxide in
the water. Carbon dioxide is removed so that it will not be included in the reactions that will occur between
the analyte and the titrant, which will be the basic of the measurements for finding the endpoint. That is
because carbon dioxide reacts with water, which forms carbonic acid that may provide inaccurate results.
This reaction may cause further reactions on the basic components of soda ash, which will give more
inaccurate results. In the preparation of base solutions such as NaOH, the distilled water to be used for
dissolution and dilution was boiled beforehand to remove any dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) which may
interfere with the solution. [1]

5. What are the basic components of the unknown soda ash sample based on the volume
relationship at the phenolphthalein and methyl orange endpoints?
Answer:

Comparing the net volumes calculated from the data gathered, the net volume of the phenolphthalein
is greater than the net volume of methyl orange, which indicates that according to the volume relationships for
different soda ash compostions table in the manual, the soda ash sample used in the experiment is composed
of NaOH and Na2CO3.

6. What are the possible sources of errors and their effect on the calculated parameters?
Rationalize.
Answer:

Possible sources of errors may come from the little amounts of water after washing the glassware for
usage. These little amounts of water provide inaccuracy in the measurements when not dried out as this slightly
dilutes the titrant when these amounts of water are still present in the burette, therefore making the titrant
less concentrated as expected. Titration experiments are bound to have several sources of error which may
cause the measured and calculated values to deviate from the real value. One such error that may have been
encountered in the experiment is termed as carbonate error where the concentration of the basic solution is
reduced due to the dissolved carbon dioxide, forming carbonate ions in the solution. When basic range
indicators such as phenolphthalein are used, the carbonate ions react with hydronium ion in the solution, thus
lowering the effective concentration of the solution. The presence of carbonate ions before titration also
decreases the sharpness of the end point, leading to a less prominent change in color of the indicator. Another
possible source of error takes into account the method used for determination. The phenolphthalein-methyl
orange double-titration system becomes unreliable at low concentration of carbonate. This distorts the
theoretical titration curve and diminishes the prominence of the end points, thus, making the color change
more difficult to distinguish. The method can be made more accurate by using an indicator that changes its
color at a higher pH than methyl orange. the prepared basic solutions should not be stored in glass containers
because of the chemical reactions that would occur such as the formation of sodium silicates. There would be
a buildup of these silicate compounds in the container, especially for glass-stoppered containers. This leads to
the stopper being stuck and hard to remove and the decrease in concentration of the base solution due to the
chemical reaction with glass. To prevent these unwanted reactions, basic solutions must be stored in
polyethylene or plastic bottles. There is a possibility that not all CO2 were boiled off, forming a buffer system.
Because of this, the endpoint of the indicators will become less accurate, the pH difference of minimal amount
as well. A lesser % compositions of both the solution components will then be achieved. Another possible error
is the subjective nature of titration especially during the methyl orange indicator was used. Distinguishing
between yellow and near orange color was difficult and there were variations from student to student. This can
cause to a difference in the % composition of the solution.