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Sulphate ions usually occur in natural water. Many sulphate compounds are readily soluble in water.
Most of them originated from the oxidation of sulphite ores, the solution of gypsum and anhydrite, the
presence of shells, particularly, those rich in organic compounds. Atmospheric sulphurdioxide formed
by the combustion of fossil fuels and emitted by the metallurgical roasting process may also contribute to
the sulphate compounds water. Sulphate bearing Minerals are common in most sedimentary rocks. In
the weathering process gypsum (CaSO4) is dissolved and sulphide minerals are partly oxidised, giving
rise to a soluble form of sulphate that is carried away by water. Sulphates cause a problem of scaling in
industrial water supplies, and problems of odor and corrosion in wastewater treatment due its reduction
to H2S. Ingestion of water containing high concentration of sulphate can have a laxative effect, which us
enhanced when sulphate is consumed in combination with magnesium.

Method - Turbidimetric


Sulphate ions are precipitated as BaSO4 in acidic (HCI) with Barium chloride. The absorption of light by
this precipitated suspension is measured by spectrophotometer at 420 mm or scattered light by

Interference: - Colour, turbidity and silica in the concentration of 500 ppm interfere in this estimation.
Filtration is adopted to remove colour and turbidity.


1. Magnetic stirrer
2. Colourimeter for use at 420 nm
3. Stopwatch
4. Nessler’s tubes cap 100 ml.
5. Measuring spoon cap – 0.2 to 0.3 ml.


1. Conditioning reagent: - Mix 50-ml glycerol with a solution containing 30 ml. Concentrated HCL.
300 ml distilled water, 100 ml. 95% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol and 75 g. NaCI.

2. Barium chlorides 20 – 30 mesh.

3. Standard sulphate solution: - Dissolve 147.9 mg. Anhydrous Na2SO4 and dilute to 100 ml.

1 ml = 100 ug SO4


1. Take suitable vol. of sample in 250-ml conical flask and dilute to 100 ml.

2. Add 5 ml. Conditioning reagent accurately. Mix well

3. Keep the flask constantly stirred with the help of stirrer. Add BaCl2 crystals while strring.
Continue stirring for 1 min. after addition of BaCl2.

4. Measure the turbidity developed after every 30 sec. For 4 min. on colorimeter at 420 nm. after
addition of BalCl2.

5. Prepare standard curve by carrying standard sulphate solution through entire procedure. Space
standards at 5-mg/l increment in the 0 to 40-mg/l range.

6. Read mg SO4 present in the sample from the standard curve.

Mg/l SO4 = mg SO4 x 1000 / ml sample