The Titration Experiment

Titration is a general class of experiment where a known property of one solution is used to infer an unknown property of another solution. In acid-base chemistry, we often use titration to determine the pH of a certain solution.

A setup for the titration of an acid with a base is shown in :

Figure %: A titration setup

We use this instrumentation to calculate the amount of unknown acid in the receiving flask by measuring the amount of base, or titrant, it takes to neutralize the acid. There are two major ways to know when the solution has been neutralized. The first uses a pH meter in the receiving flask adding base slowly until the pH reads exactly 7. The second method uses an indicator. An indicator is an acid or base whose conjugate acid or conjugate base has a color different from that of the original compound. The color changes when the solution contains a 1:1 mixture of the differently colored forms of the indicator. As you know from the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation, the pH equals the pKa of the indicator at the endpoint of the indicator. Since we know the pH of the solution and the volume of titrant added, we can then deduce how much base was needed to neutralize the unknown sample.

Titration Curves

A titration curve is drawn by plotting data attained during a titration, titrant volume on the x-axis and pH on the y-axis. The titration curve serves to profile the unknown solution. In the shape of the curve lies much chemistry and an interesting summary of what we have learned so far about acids and bases.

The titration of a strong acid with a strong base produces the following titration curve:

Figure %: Titration curve of a strong base titrating a strong acid

Note the sharp transition region near the equivalence point on the . Also remember that the equivalence point for a strong acid-strong base titration curve is exactly 7 because the salt produced does not undergo any hydrolysis reactions.