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Introduction

In order to classify and identify materials of a wide variety, scientists use numbers called

physical constants (e.g. density, melting point, boiling point, index of refraction) which are

characteristic of the material in question. These constants do not vary with the amount or shape

of the material, and are therefore useful in positively identifying unknown materials. Standard

reference works have been complied containing lists of data for a wide variety of substances. The

chemist makes use of this in determining the identity of an unknown substance, by measuring the

appropriate physical constants in the laboratory, consulting the scientific literature, and then

comparing the measured physical constants with the values for known materials. This

experiment illustrates several approaches to the measurement of the density of liquids and solids.

Density is a measure of the compactness of matter within a substance and is defined by

the equation:

Density = mass/volume

eq 1.

The standard metric units in use for mass and volume respectively are grams and milliters or

cubic centimeters. Thus, density has the unit grams/milliter (g/ml) or grams/cubic centimenters

(g/cc). The literature values are usually given in this unit. Density may be calculated from a

separate mass and volume measurement, or, in the case of liquids, may be determined directly by

the use of an instrument called hydrometer.

Volume measurements for liquids or gases are made using a graduated containers, for

example, a graduated cylinder. For solids, the volume can be obtained either from the

measurement of the dimensions of the solid or by displacement. The first method can be applied

to solids with regular geometric shapes for which the mathematical formulas can be used to

calculate the volume of the solid from the dimensions of the solid. Alternatively, the volume of

any solid object, irregular or regularly shaped, can be measured by displacement. The solid is

submerged in a liquid in which it is not soluble, and the volume of liquid displaced measured.

The hydrometer measures density directly. An object that is less dense than a liquid will

float in that liquid density to a depth such that the mass of the object submerged equals the mass

of the of the liquid displaced (Archimedes' Principle). Since mass equals density X volume (see

equation 1), an object floated in liquids of different densities will displace different volumes of

liquid. A hydrometer is a tube of constant mass that has been calibrated to measure density by

floating the hydrometer in liquids of known densities and recording on a scale the fraction of the

hydrometer submerged. Any hydrometer can be used over a limited range of densities because

the hydrometer must float in the liquid being studied and the hydrometer level must be

sufficiently submerged to obtain an on scale reading. Hydrometers may be calibrated in g/ml or

some other unit of density.

In the following experiment, the identities of three colorless liquids will be determined by

measuring the densities of the liquids by two methods and then comparing the density of the

liquid to literature (reference) values for the three liquids. The identity of an unknown metal will

be established in a similar manner.

Procedure

1) Weigh a clean, dry 50ml graduated cylinder. Add approximately 30ml of liquid to your

weighed 50ml graduated cylinder without bothering to measuring out the liquid accurately. Now

carefully read and record whatever amount of liquid there is in the cylinder. Weigh the cylinder

and liquid, and then calculate the density of the liquid. Repeat this procedure to find the density

of each liquid

2) Determine the density of each of the above, using a hydrometer and an ungraduated cylinder.

Read the density from where the liquid crosses the hydrometer's scale.

3) Weigh and record the mass of an unknown metal cylinder. Also record the identity of the

unknown metal cylinder (A, B, C, or D). Calculate the volume of the metal cylinder by

measuring (in cm) the height (h) and diameter (d) of the metal cylinder and then applying the

formula: Volume (cc) = = h x 0.785d2. Also, measure the volume of the metal cylinder by

displacement of water in a 50ml graduated cylinder. Calculate the density of the metal cylinder

for each method of measuring volume and identify the metal by comparing the value obtained

with the literature values for various metals.

4) Using any appropriate procedure learned above, find the density of one of the following more

objects: a coin, a piece of chalk, a small cork.,

Formulas for volumes of regular shaped objects

Area of circle d2, where d = diameter, and = 3.14159

Volume of a cylinder = area of base x height

Volume of a sphere 1/6 d3

Name___________________ Date_________________Lab section________

a) Weight of graduated cylinder_______________g

Liquid A

Liquid B

Liquid C

________g

_________g

_________g

Wt. of liquid

________g

_________g

_________g

Volume of liquid

________ml

_________ml

_________ml

Density

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

_________g/ml

__________g/ml

Literature value:

unknown No._________________

unknown color________________

weight _____________________g

height ____________________cm

diameter __________________cm

volume(a)_________________cc (by calculation)

volume(b)_________________ml (by displacement, 1 ml = 1 cc)

density(a)_________________(b) _____________g/cc(g/ml)

identity of metal_______________

literature value of density___________

literature source__________________

1) Identity and description of material:

Mass of material

________________

Volume of material

________________

Density of material

________________

Mass of material

________________

Volume of material

________________

Density of material

________________

Mass of material

________________

Volume of material

________________

Density of material

________________

Questions

1) Why is density a physical property useful for identifying an unknown substance?

2) As the density of a given liquid increases, will the hydrometer used to determine it float higher

or lower in the liquid? Explain.

3) If a hydrometer touches bottom in a liquid, is its range too high or low for the liquid? Why?

6) Indicate the density reading for each of the following hydrometers (shown by the position for

the arrows). Give the correct number of digits and units.

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