Performing a titration is one of the most essential processes that is performed in laboratories by modern chemists. Simply put, a titration is a very controlled reaction where the presence of one reagent is limited meticulously. When performed correctly, a titration will allow a chemist to discern the concentration of a given solution.
The first and most fundamental step in performing a titration is to write out a fully balanced chemical equation for the two substances which will be titrated. This can take the form of a redox reaction, an acid-base neutralization, or any number of other spontaneous reactions which involve a solution of unknown concentration and produce a colour change when reacted.
There are a few pieces of equipment which one must posses for performing a titration. First, a volumetric flask is the standard container for where the reaction will take place. Here, pour in a specific volume of a primary standard solution, usually around 10 mL. You will also need a burette and a clamp stand.
First you will have to fill the burette with an excess amount of an unknown concentration solution. Note the current volume of this solution. Then, it is the job of the chemist to carefully turn the stopcock so that drops of the unknown solution will fall into the flask. After every few drops, the flask should be agitated to return the solution to it’s normal hue. The titration will be finished when this procedure fails to eliminate the colour from the solution. The wise chemist will realize that this method leads to an inherent uncertainty when a titration is performed. In order to be sure of results, these titration trials should be repeated until the volume of titrant used is within 0.1 mL on three or more separate trials.
Once a volume of titrant has been determined, it is a simple task to find the concentration of the solution. Simply multiply the concentration in moles per liter of the known solution by the standard volume used, and multiply that product by the coefficient of the unknown solution in the balanced equation. Then, divide this number by the coefficient of the standard solution, and again by the volume of the titrant used. This will yield the concentration of the unknown solution.
Titration is a powerful tool when used correctly, and it is an essential process in modern chemistry. Its implications are widespread, from medical purposed to industrial chemicals, many titrations are taking place every day.