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ot sure what titration is or what you can do with it?

Then you are in the right

place! In this tutorial, you will find information on titration, including the
chemicals that are commonly used and the chemical reactions that make
titration work, as well as how titration is performed and some tips to get better

What is Titration?

Titration is a method commonly used in chemistry to figure out the amount of a

chemical in a solution. This chemical is called the titrand. To figure out the
amount of titrand in the solution, a known amount of a different chemical is
added to the titrand's solution; this chemical called the titrant, or titrating
solutionreacts with the titrand. By measuring how much of the titrating
solution is needed to react with all of the titrand in the solution, you can
calculate how much titrand was in the solution. Simply put:

Titrand: A chemical you want to know the quantity of in your sample.

Titrant (titrating solution): A chemical you add, in a known quantity, to

react with the titrand and to help you calculate the quantity of the titrand
in your sample.

The point at which all of the titrand has reacted is called the endpoint,
or equivalence point. How do you know when the endpoint has been reached?
At the endpoint, there is usually a color change in the titrand's solution. This is
caused by an indicator, which is included in the titrand's solution just so you
can see when you have reached the endpoint. The unknown amount of titrand in
the titrand's solution can usually be determined by setting up a proportion with
the known amount of titrating solution that was added. How this is done depends
on the exact titrating reaction that is being used.

You can watch the video below, made by the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT)'s Department of Chemistry, to see titration in action. Note: This
video uses an indicator that turns light pink at the endpoint, but different
indicators turn different colors at their endpoints. The next tab contains more
information about indicators.


A titration is a method of analysis that will allow you to

determine the precise endpoint of a reaction and
therefore the precise quantity of reactant in the titration
flask. A buret is used to deliver the second reactant to
the flask and an indicator or pH Meter is used to detect
the endpoint of the reaction.

Doing a Titration
Begin by preparing your buret, as described on
the buret page. Your buret should be conditioned and filled
with titrant solution. You should check for air bubbles and
leaks, before proceding with the titration.

Take an initial volume reading and record it in your

notebook. Before beginning a titration, you should
always calculate the expected endpoint volume.

Prepare the solution to be analyzed by placing it in a

clean Erlenmeyer flask or beaker. If your sample is a
solid, make sure it is completely dissoloved. Put a
magnetic stirrer in the flask and add indicator.
Use the buret to deliver a stream of titrant to within a
couple of mL of your expected endpoint. You will see the
indicator change color when the titrant hits the solution
in the flask, but the color change disappears upon

Approach the endpoint more slowly and watch the color

of your flask carefully. Use a wash bottle to rinse the
sides of the flask and the tip of the buret, to be sure all
titrant is mixed in the flask.

As you approach the endpoint, you may need to add a

partial drop of titrant. You can do this with a rapid spin of a
teflon stopcock or by partially opening the stopcock and
rinsing the partial drop into the flask with a wash bottle. Ask
your TA to demonstrate these techniques for you, in the lab.
Make sure you know what the endpoint should look like. For
phenolphthalein, the endpoint is the first permanent pale
pink. The pale pink fades in 10 to 20 minutes.

If you think you might have reached the endpoint, you can
record the volume reading and add another partial drop.
Sometimes it is easier to tell when you have gone past the

If the flask looks like this, you have gone too far!

When you have reached the endpoint, read the final volume
in the buret and record it in your notebook.
Subtract the initial volume to determine the amount of
titrant delivered. Use this, the concentration of the titrant,
and the stoichiometry of the titration reaction to calculate
the number of moles of reactant in your analyte solution.

For more information, see the page on burets.

Titrating with a pH meter

Titration with a pH meter follows the same procedure as a

titration with an indicator, except that the endpoint is
detected by a rapid change in pH, rather than the color
change of an indicator.

Arrange the sample, stirrer, buret, and pH meter electrode

so that you can read the pH and operate the buret with
To detect the endpoint accurately, record pH vs. volume of
titrant added and plot the titration curve as you titrate.
For acid base titrations, a pH indicator or pH meter is used in order to
determine whether neutralization has been reached and titration is
complete. The information obtained from the process of titration can then
be inserted into the equation, MiVi=MfVfMiVi=MfVf, to determine the
concentration of the unknown solution. MiMi and MfMf are the initial and
final molarities, and ViVi and VfVf are the initial and final volumes.

Elements of Titration
1. The standard solution is the solution of known concentration. An
accurately measured amount of standard solution is added during
titration to the solution of unknown concentration until the
equivalence or endpoint is reached. The equivalence point is when
the reactants are done reacting.
2. The solution of unknown concentration is otherwise known as
the analyte. During titration the titrant is added to the analyte in
order to achieve the equivalence point and determine the
concentration of the analyte.
3. The equivalence point is the ideal point for the completion
of titration. In order to obtain accurate results the equivalence point
must be attained precisely and accurately. The solution of known
concentration, or titrant, must be added to the solution of unknown
concentration, or analyte, very slowly in order to obtain a good
result. At the equivalence point the correct amount of standard
solution must be added to fully react with the unknown
4. The end point of a titration indicates once the equivalence point
has been reached. It is indicated by some form of indicator which
varies depending on what type of titration being done. For example,
if a color indicator is used, the solution will change color when the
titration is at its end point.

For example, when a color indicator is being used:

To clear confusion, the endpoint and equivalence point are not necessarily
equal, but they do represent the same idea. An endpoint is indicated by
some form of indicator at the end of a titration. An equivalence point is
when the moles of a standard solution (titrant) equal the moles of a
solution of unknown concentration (analyte).

The use of an indicator is key in performing a successful titration
reaction. The purpose of the indicator is to show when enough standard
solution has been added to fully react with the unknown
concentration. However, an indicator should only be added when
necessary and is dependent upon the solution that is being
titrated. Therefore, indicators must only be added to the solution of
unknown concentration when no visible reaction will occur. Depending on
the solution being titrated, the choice of indicator can become key for the
success of the titration.
How to Setup a Titration
Erlenmeyer flask or beaker
Excess amount of standard solution (titrant)
A precisely measured amount of analyte; this will be used to make
the solution of unknown concentration
Calibrated Burette
Burette Stand
1. Before beginning the experiment, obtain all necessary materials and
clean all necessary items with distilled water.
2. Measure out a precise amount of analyte; this will make up the
solution of unknown concentration.
3. Quantitatively transfer the analyte into a beaker or Erlenmeyer
flask. Make sure to rinse all of solid analyte into the beaker or
Erlenmeyer flask with distilled water.
4. Add additional distilled water until the anlayte is fully dissolved.
Measure and record volume of aqueous solution, the process of
titration will solve for concentration of this solution.
5. Add four to five drops of the appropriate color indicator into the
6. Swirl the beaker in order to mix the aqueous solution of the analyte
and the drops of indicator.
7. Fill the burette with an excess amount of titrant. The titrant is the
standard solution of known concentration and should be in aqueous
8. Clamp the burette carefully to a burette stand. The tip of the burette
should not be touching any surfaces.
9. Place the beaker or Erlenmeyer flask containing the aqueous
solution of unknown concentration under the burette.
10. Record the initial volume of the burette. Make sure to measure
at the bottom of the meniscus.
11. Turn on the stopcock (tap) of the burette, so that standard
solution is added to the beaker. This should cause a color change so
be sure to swirl the beaker or Erlenmeyer flask until the color
12. Repeat the above step until the color does not disappear. This
means you have reached the endpoint
13. Stop when you've reached endpoint, which is the point when
the reactant within the solution of unknown concentration has been
completely neutralized. You can tell you've reached the endpoint
because the color will change.
14. Measure and record your final volume of the burette. Calculate
the volume of standard solution used by subtracting the initial
volume measurement from the final volume measurement of the
15. Now perform the necessary calculations in order to obtain the
concentration of the unknown solution.

Types of Titrations
The following types of titrations are categorized based on chemical

Acid-Base Titration Reactions

Titration of acid/base reactions involve the process of neutralization in
order to determine an unknown concentration. Acid-Base titrations can be
made up of both strong and weak acids or bases. However, in order to
determine the unknown concentration of an acid or base, you must add
the opposite so that neutralization can be reached. Therefore, an acid of
unknown concentration will be titrated using a basic standard solution and
a base of unknown concentration will be titrated using an acidic standard
solution. Examples include:

Titration of a Strong Acid with a Strong Base

Titration of a Weak Acid with a Strong Base
Titration of a Weak Base with a Strong Acid
Titration of a Weak Polyprotic Acid

Acid-Base titrations often require the use of some kind of indicator

depending on the strength of acid or base that is being titrated. In some
cases a weak base or weak acid is used or a ph meter which reads the pH
of the solution being titrated. Once the pH of the titrated solution equals
seven, either indicated by a change in color or on a pH meter one can
determine that titrations is complete.

Redox (Oxidizing-Reduction) Titrations

Another type of titration is the Redox, or Oxidizing-Reducing Titration,
which is used to determine the oxidizing or reducing agent in a
solution. When performing redox titrations, either the reducing or
oxidizing agent will be used as the titrant against the other agent. The
purpose of this titration is to determine the transfer of electrons from one
substance to the other, similar to that of a redox reaction to determine the
reductant or oxidant. The end point of such titrations can be determined
by either a color changing indicator or potentiometer.

Combination Reactions Titrations

Combination reaction titrations inclued two different types of titrations:

1. One type of combination reaction titrations involve elements of

opposite ions being titrated against each other. Therefore, one ion
will act as the titrant while the other opposite ion will act as the
analyte. However, combination reactions can involve more than two
elements that are not necessarily ionic. These types of reactions will
sometimes form a precipitate indicating the endpoint, but if not,
some type of indicator may need to be added to the solution being
2. Complex-formation Titrations: In these types of titrations the
fomation of precipitate may or may not exist. Therefore, these types
of titrations require the powerful complexing agent of
ethlylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) or related compounds. For
these type of reactions EDTA is used as a titrant becaue it will
combine with many different types of cations in order to form a
single type of complex. EDTA is most commonly used to determine
the metal ions of a solution. However, EDTA should not be
confused as being the indicator for these types of reactions,
because the indicators are usually organic dyes. In fact EDTA merely
acts as an inhibitor because it bonds strongly with the cations of
metal, which results in the displacement of the indicator. This is
what causes the color change, signifying the endpoint of titration.

Back Titrations
The purpose of back titrating is to return to the endpoint after it was
passed. Back titrating should only be used when made necessary. It
is often used when the solution being titrated is either too weak or too
slow to give a reaction. It is also used if too much titrant was added, and
the solution turned too dark. This means the experiment must be done
over. The way to back titrate is to add an excess volume of another
reactant of known concentration.

A back titration, or reverse titration, is most useful when the endpoint of

a normal titration is difficult to identify.

Titration Curves
The graphs of titration curves effectively show the relationship between
the pH of the solution of unknown concentration as the standard solution
is added to it in order to reach neutralization.

Effects on pH
The pH of the final solution of titration changes as a result of the
concentration of the standard solution. Ideally, if the titration has been
done precisely and accurately, the final solution of the titration process
should be neutralized and have a pH of 7.0. However, this is not always
the case. The pH of the final solution often fluctuates depending upon the
concentration of the unknown solution and the standard solution that is
being added. Therefore, the effects that titration has on pH can best be
defined by a generalized trend exhibited by the equivalence points on a
titration curve. For more information of pH and pOH click here.
Solving Titration Reactions

Ideally when performing titration reactions the molarity multiplied by the

volume of solution one should equal the molarity multiplied by the volume
of solution two. Assume solution one is the standard solution, titrant, and
solution two is the solution of unknown concentration, analyte. The
volume of the titrant solution can be determined by subtracting the final
burette readings from the initial.

An example of the equation for Acid-base titrations:

If done correctly, the final solution after titration should be neutralized and
contain equal moles of hydroxide and hydrogen ions. So the moles of acid
should equal the moles of base: