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Phosphoric Acid Determination in Cola by Acid-Base Titration

Hajime Q. Nakaegawa, Maria Elijah A. Natanawan, Jarvin E. Nipales, Jodine P. Novilla, Jonel G. Nuevo
Group 6, 2A Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Thomas

Phosphoric acid is a weak acid. It is also a polyprotic acid, which means it will give more than one proton (H +) in
solution, each having different equivalence points. The principles behind the Acid-Base Titration were incorporated
during the determination. The experiment was divided into three parts, (1) preparation of the cola sample, (2)
preparation and standardization of the NaOH solution, and (3) the phosphoric acid determination, where its objective
is to determine the phosphoric acid concentration in cola. The equivalence point was determined approximately using
graphical method, including the first and second derivative plot, where the group retrieved 4.50mL as its equivalence
point. The concentration of the phosphoric acid obtained from the experiment was 2.02 x10 -3 M, inferring that the cola
contains only a small amount of phosphoric acid, which should be limited because of its harmful effects to the body.

INTRODUCTION crucial point in the titration. It is the point during

the titration where the moles of base added will
Titration is an analytical technique used to equal the moles of acid in the unknown solution
find the concentration of a known volume of (or vice versa). [2]
unknown substance by adding a known Since the volume of base added can be
concentration of a known substance. As the read from the burette at this point and the
unknown and known substance react, an concentration of the base and the volume of the
indication that the reaction is complete is need to acid are also known, the concentration of the
be found, which allows us to determine the unknown acid solution can be determined.
concentration of the unknown. [2]
The objective of this experiment is to
One of the most common types of titration determine the molar phosphoric acid
is the acid-base titration. In this type of titration, concentration contained in a cola product via
it starts with a known amount (usually a volume) potentiometric acid-base titration.
of an unknown concentration of acid and adds to
it known amounts of a known concentration of EXPERIMENTAL
base (or vice versa).
A. Compounds Tested (or Samples used)
In the experiment, the pH meter is an
important material used. This operates by For the preparation of sample and
measuring the difference in voltage generated standardization of NaOH, a hot plate, 2 separate
between and indicator electrode and a reference 100-mL beakers and a 100-mL volumetric flask
electrode. The reference electrode or probe is not were used. Coca-cola was the main cola sample.
sensitive to H+ concentration changes and is Compounds to prepare the standardized NaOH
simply used as a reference point. [3] were potassium hydrogen phthalate (KHP) and
NaOH pellets.
Phosphoric acid is one of several weak
acids that exist in carbonated beverages. It is a For the determination of phosphoric acid,
component of all cola soft drinks. Phosphoric acid a 20-mL volumetric pipet, 100-mL beaker, buret,
has a much higher concentration than other acids pH meter and a magnetic stirrer were needed.
in a container of soft drink, so its concentration
can be determined by a simple acid-base B. Procedure
titration. [1]
The experiment can be divided into three
In the experiment, the cola soft drink is parts, (1) preparation of the cola sample, (2)
titrated with a standardized NaOH solution and preparation and standardization of the NaOH
the concentration of phosphoric acid, H3PO4, is to solution, and (3) the phosphoric acid
be determined. Hydrogen ions from the first determination.
dissociation of phosphoric acid react with
hydroxide ions from the NaOH in a one-to-one I. Sample preparation
ratio in the overall reaction:
One hundred (100) mL of a cola sample
H3PO4(aq) + OH(aq) H2O(l) + H2PO4(aq) was prepared in a 100-mL volumetric flask. This
This is why for experimental purposes, was then transferred to a beaker was subjected
purposes, the equivalence point is the most
to heating for 20 minutes to remove the Concentratration of NaOH, M:
dissolved CO2. Trial 1 : 0.01021 M
Trial 2 : 0.007723 M
II. Preparation and Standardization of NaOH Average: 0.00897 M

An accurate amount of NaOH pellets were The concentration of NaOH can be

used to prepare 500 mL of a 0.1 M NaOH computed by dividing the number of moles of
solution. Onto an Erlenmeyer flask, 0.4 grams of KHP (divide the weight by its molecular mass
KHP was weighed and dissolved in 25 mL distilled which is 204.23g) to the volume of NaOH
water. Three (3) drops of phenolphthalein was consumed in the titration.
added afterwards. The concentration of NaOH
was calculated. Graphing the data is one way to determine
for the equivalence point of the experiment. Not
III. Phosphoric Acid Determination only can it give a clearer picture of the results, it
can also give the information about the
The heated cola was cooled down and was equivalence point by plotting it the results, and
transferred back to the volumetric flask. A graphing its first and second derivative plot.
decrease in volume can be observed. Water was
added to it to fill back up to the 100-mL mark. The first derivative of the function f(x),
The solution was mixed well. Afterwards, 20 mL which we write as f(x) or as df/dx, is the slope of
of the decarbonized soda sample was put into a the tangent line to the function at the point x. To
100-mL beaker, and a magnetic stirrer was put put this in non-graphical terms, the first
together in it. The beaker was placed on top of a derivative tells us how whether a function is
stirring plate and the pH electrode was increasing or decreasing, and by how much it is
immersed. The stirring plate was turned on. The increasing or decreasing. [4]
pH of the solution before starting was noted. One
mL of NaOH was dispensed to the beaker and the While the first derivative can tell us if the
pH was noted. This was done repeatedly until a function is increasing or decreasing, the second
sharp rise was observed (first equivalence point). derivative tells us if the first derivative is
Afterwards, the procedure of adding 1 mL NaOH increasing or decreasing. [4]
and taking note the pH reading was repeated
until a second sharp rise was observed. Table 1 shows the summary of all the
information that was used in plotting the graphs
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION needed in the experiment.

The sample cola was heated prior to Table 1. Summary of Data

analysis because heating can eliminate the
carbonic acid and other unwanted substances in
the sample, therefore making the cola sample
ready for determination via neutralization

The experiment involved a drastic change

in pH while doing the acid-base titration, this
signals the equivalence point of the titration
process. Only the first inflection point is
considered in the experiment, which means only
the first Ka is involved.

The standardization of the NaOH is the

important key in determining the concentration of
the analyte. Two trials were done in the
experiment where the following information was

Weight of NaOH, g = 0.2003

Weight of KHP, (1) g = 0.0317 (2) g = 0.0265
Initial volume NaOH, mL = 0.00 From here, Graph 1 shows the relationship
Final volume of NaOH, mL = 15.20 of the results retrieved from the titration.
errors like in measurement of samples and use of
the instrument, (2) a defective pH meter, like in
the case of the groups determination, could lead
to an error prior to analysis, and (3) the use of
the graphical method is just an approximation,
meaning this still can lead to an inaccurate result.

The concentration of the phosphoric acid

can be determined using the following
information retrieved:

Volume of cola, mL = 20.0

Graph 1. pH vs volume of titrant used Concentration of NaOH, M = 0.00897 M

To compute for M, the solution will be:

To approximate graphically the endpoint of 1 mole H 3 PO 4
the titration using Graph 1, simply get the ( 0.0897 M x 0.00450 L ) NaOH x
1 mole NaOH
midpoint of the concentration where there was a
drastic change in pH. In the groups case, the 0.020 L solution
equivalent point of the experiment is 4.50mL.
This results to 2.02 x10-3 M H3PO4.
Graph 2 and 3 are the first and second
derivative plots, respectively. This graphs data
Potentiometric Titration can be very useful
supports the reliability of the groups equivalence
in analysis of samples like soft drinks because
point as seen in both graphs.
they are (1) inexpensive and (2) they are
convenient to use. However, these can also lead
to disadvantages like (1) it is time consuming,
(2) frequent calibration is required, and (3) this
process involves sensitivity to changes in ionic

In conclusion, the group inferred that

there was only a small amount of phosphoric acid
content in cola soft drink because of some of its
harmful effects to the body.

Graph 2. First Derivative Plot REFERENCES

[1] Determining the Phosphoric Acid

Content in Soft Drinks. Retrieved from:

[2] Titration of a Cola Product. Retrieved from:

[3] Potentiometric Titrations. Retrieved from:
Graph 3. Second Derivative Plot
[4] The First and Second Derivatives. Retrieved
Many errors were prone in the from:
experiment, this will include (1) typical human