Acid-Base Indicators

What is an acid-base indicator? An acid-base indicator is a weak acid or a weak base. The undissociated form of the indicator is a different color than the iogenic form of the indicator. An Indicator does not change color from pure acid to pure alkaline at specific hydrogen ion concentration, but rather, color change occurs over a range of hydrogen ion concentrations. This range is termed the color change interval. It is expressed as a pH range.

Some Common Acid Base Indicators
Several acid-base indicators are listed below, some more than once if they can be used over multiple pH ranges. Quantity of indicator in aqueous (aq.) or alcohol (alc.) solution is specified. Tried-and-true indicators include: thymol blue, tropeolin OO, methyl yellow, methyl orange, bromphenol blue, bromcresol green, methyl red, bromthymol blue, phenol red, neutral red, phenolphthalein, thymolphthalein, alizarin yellow, tropeolin O, nitramine, and trinitrobenzoic acid. Data in this table are for sodium salts of thymol blue, bromphenol blue, tetrabromphenol blue, bromcresol green, methyl red, bromthymol blue, phenol red, and cresol red.

In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. It approximates but is not equal to p[H], the negative logarithm (base 10) of the molar concentration of dissolved hydrogen ions (H+); a low pH indicates a high concentration of hydrogen ions, while a high pH indicates a low concentration. Crudely, this negative of the logarithm matches the number of places behind the decimal point, so for example 0.1 molar hydrochloric acid should be near pH 1 and 0.0001 molar HCl should be near pH 4. Pure water is neutral, and can be considered either a very weak acid or a very weak base (center on the pH scale), giving it a pH of 7 (at 25 °C (77 °F)), or 0.0000001 M H+. For an aqueous solution to have a higher pH, a base must be dissolved in it, which binds away many of these rare hydrogen ions. Hydrogen ions in water can be written simply as H+ or as hydronium (H3O+) or higher species (e.g. H9O4+) to account for solvation, but all describe the same entity. However, pH is not precisely p[H], but takes into account an activity factor. This represents the tendency of hydrogen ions to interact with other components of the solution, which affects among other things the electrical potential read using a pH meter. As a result, pH can be affected by the ionic strength of a solution - for example, the pH of a 0.05 M potassium hydrogen phthalate solution can vary by as much as 0.5 pH units as a function of added potassium chloride, even though the added salt is neither acidic nor basic. Unfortunately, hydrogen ion activity coefficients cannot be measured directly by any thermodynamically sound method, so they are based on theoretical calculations. Therefore the pH scale is defined in practice as traceable to a set of standard solutions whose pH is established by international agreement. Primary pH standard values are

Solutions with a pH less than 7 (at 25 °C (77 °F)) are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 (at 25 °C (77 °F)) are said to be basic or alkaline. biology.determined by the Harned cell. pH measurements are important in medicine. food science. a hydrogen gas electrode. which has also been used in other works. oceanography. It is also suggested that Sørensen used the letters p and q (commonly paired letters in mathematics) simply to label the test solution (p) and the reference solution (q). others refer to the German word “Potenz” (meaning power in German). still others refer to “potential”. chemistry.0 at 25 °C (77 °F). with a pH close to 7. According to the Carlsberg Foundation pH stands for "power of hydrogen". It is unknown what the exact definition of p is. using the Bates-Guggenheim Convention. Other suggestions that have surfaced over the years are that the p stands for puissance (also meaning power but then the Carlsberg Laboratory was French speaking) or that pH stands for the Latin terms pondus Hydrogenii or potentia hydrogenii. Some references suggest the p stands for “Power”. environmental science. H then stands for Hydrogen. Jens Norby published a paper in 2000 arguing that p is a constant and stands for “negative logarithm”. Applications . Pure water is said to be neutral. civil engineering and many other applications History The concept of p[H] was first introduced by Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909 and revised to the modern pH in 1924 after it became apparent that electromotive force in cells depended on activity rather than concentration of hydrogen ions.

0–7. such as sodium hydroxide.0 orange yellow blue blue purple Thymol blue (second transition) yellow A solution whose pH is 7 (at 25 °C (77 °F)) is said to be neutral. so in neutral solution of a salt both the hydrogen ion concentration and hydroxide ion concentration are about 10-7 mol dm-3.2 6.6 8. or pKa.8 4. For example. or alkali is dissolved in water the pH will be greater than 7 (if at 25 °C (77 °F)). the pH of pure water at 50 °C is 6.4–6. Because the glass electrode (and other ion selective electrodes) responds to activity. however. such as hydrochloric acid. at concentration 1 mol dm−3 has a pH of 0. at concentration 1 mol dm−3 has a pH of 14. which is then slowly converted into carbonic acid. Universal indicator consists of a mixture of indicators such that there is a continuous colour change from about pH 2 to pH 10.0–9.2–2. Note. the naturally occurring indicator litmus is red in acidic solutions (pH<7 at 25 °C (77 °F)) and blue in alkaline (pH>7 at 25 °C (77 °F)) solutions. For instance. Since pH is a logarithmic scale a difference of one pH unit is equivalent to a ten-fold difference in hydrogen ion concentration. that water that has been exposed to air is mildly acidic.6 8. as detailed below. that is. measured pH values will mostly lie in the range 0 to 14. the electrode should be calibrated in a solution resembling seawater in its chemical composition.Some typical pH values Pure (neutral) water has a pH around 7 at 25 °C (77 °F). Universal indicator components Indicator Thymol blue (first transition) Methyl red Bromothymol blue Phenolphthalein Low pH color Transition pH range High pH color red red yellow colorless 1. When an acid is dissolved in water the pH will be less than 7 (if at 25 °C (77 °F)) and when a base. The pH of pure water decreases with increasing temperatures. KW. value. the electrode should be calibrated in a medium similar to the one being investigated. if one wishes to measure the pH of a seawater sample. For example.55. it is neither acidic nor basic.3–10. Water is subject to a self-ionization process. Thus. this value varies with temperature. which dissociates to liberate hydrogen ions: . A solution of a strong acid. A pH indicator is a substance that changes colour around a particular pH value. Universal indicator paper is simple paper that has been impregnated with universal indicator. H2O H+ + OH− The dissociation constant. has a value of about 10-14. A solution of a strong alkali. An approximate measure of pH may be obtained by using a pH indicator. This is because water absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. It is a weak acid or weak base and the colour change occurs around 1 pH unit either side of its acid dissociation constant.

such that the total scale includes the effect of both protons (free hydrogen ions) and hydrogen sulfate ions: [H+]T = [H+]F + [HSO4−] An alternative scale.7). As part of its operational definition of the pH scale. The total scale was defined using a medium containing sulfate ions. the free scale. To resolve this problem. These solutions have a relatively low ionic strength (~0. often denoted pHF. and the new pH scale is referred to as the total scale. marigold. pH measurement is complicated by the chemical properties of seawater. H+ + SO42− ⇌ HSO4−. red cabbage (anthocyanin). [H+]F must be estimated using the [SO42−] and the stability constant of HSO4−. including hibiscus. Analytically. and several distinct pH scales exist in chemical oceanography.[22] therefore. depending on a pH-dependent mobilization and uptake of soil aluminium into the plants. only [H+]T can be determined. Seawater The pH of seawater plays an important role in the ocean's carbon cycle and there is evidence of ongoing ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide emissions. the IUPAC define a series of buffer solutions across a range of pH values (often denoted with NBS or NIST designation).CO2 + H2O H2CO3 HCO3− + H+ pH in nature Hydrangea macrophylla blossoms are either pink or blue.[19] However. and red wine. often denoted as pHT. omits this consideration and focuses solely on [H+]F. These ions experience protonation.1) compared to that of seawater (~0.[21] This new series resolves the problem of ionic strength differences between samples and the buffers. KS*: . in principle making it a simpler representation of hydrogen ion concentration. an alternative series of buffers based on artificial seawater was developed. and consequently are not recommended for use in characterising the pH of seawater since the ionic strength differences cause changes in electrode potential. pH-dependent plant pigments that can be used as pH indicators occur in many plants.

the total and seawater scales differ only very slightly.45 Mitochondrial matrix 7. The pH of different cellular compartments.[20] Since it omits consideration of sulfate and fluoride ions. H+ + F− ⇌ HF. differences that are much larger than the accuracy of pH measurements typically required.1 from decrease in body pH. .5 Human skin 5. Resulting in the following expression for [H+]SWS: [H+]SWS = [H+]F + [HSO4−] + [HF] However. and organs is usually tightly regulated in a process called acid-base homeostasis. the difference between the total and seawater scales is very small.34–7. The following three equations summarise the three scales of pH: pHF = − log [H+]F pHT = − log ( [H+]F + [HSO4−] ) = − log [H+]T pHSWS = − log ( [H+]F + [HSO4−] + [HF] ) = − log [H+]SWS In practical terms.81 Cytosol 7.[H+]F = [H+]T − [HSO4−] = [H+]T ( 1 + [SO42−] / KS* )−1 However. In seawater. limiting the utility of the otherwise more straightforward free scale. the advantage of considering this additional complexity is dependent upon the abundance of fluoride in the medium.[24] [25] resulting Pancreas secretions 8. This value is often referred to as physiological pH in biology and medicine.3 Blood 7. for most practical purposes.5 Urine 6.2 Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 7. particularly in relation to the ocean's carbonate system. it is difficult to estimate KS* in seawater. the free scale is significantly different from both the total and seawater scales. pH in living systems[23] [edit] Living systems Compartment pH Gastric acid 1 Lysosomes 4. the three seawater pH scales differ in their values by up to 0.5 General symptoms of acidosis. Because of the relative unimportance of the fluoride ion. sulfate ions occur at much greater concentrations (> 400 times) than those of fluoride. Consequently. Another scale.0 Neutral H2O at 37 °C 6.5 Granules of chromaffin cells 5. takes account of a further protonation relationship between hydrogen ions and fluoride ions. known as the seawater scale. often denoted pHSWS. The pH of blood is usually slightly basic with a value of pH 7. for instance. body fluids.4.12 pH units.

0 are basic. Moreover. pH indicators form one of the three main types of indicator compounds used in chemical analysis. which means an acid overload in the body. the indicator causes the color of the solution to change depending on the pH.0 are considered acidic. Theory In and of themselves. are used in titrations involving a redox reaction as the basis of the analysis. carboxylic acids and amines. whereas solutions with pH value above 7. the pH value of a neutral solution is 7. Normally. pH can be estimated from known base excess (be) and bicarbonate concentration (HCO3) by the following equation:[26] pH indicator chemical compound that is added in small amounts to a solution so that the pH (acidity or basicity) of the solution can be determined visually. pH indicators find many applications in biology and analytical chemistry.for the conjugate base of the indicator. At 25 degrees Celsius. The most common disorder in acid-base homeostasis is acidosis.Plaque can create a local acidic environment that can result in tooth decay by demineralisation. we can write the HendersonHasselbalch equation for them: . Hence a pH indicator is a chemical detector for hydronium ions (H3O+) (or hydrogen ions (H+) in the Arrhenius model). In the blue. generally defined by pH falling below 7. Enzymes and other proteins have an optimum pH range and can become inactivated or denatured outside this range. For the quantitative analysis of metal cations. For pH indicators that are weak protolytes. considered the standard temperature.0. the use of complexometric indicators is preferred. Solutions with a pH value below 7. As most naturally occurring organic compounds are weak protolytes. pH indicators are frequently weak acids or bases. The general reaction scheme of a pH indicator can be formulated as follows: HInd + H2O ⇌ H3O+ + IndHere HInd stands for the acid form and Ind. the redox indicators. whereas the third compound class. It is the ratio of these that determines the color of the solution and that connects the color to the pH value.35.

Indicators usually exhibit intermediate colors at pH values inside the listed transition range.4. such as phenolphthalein. their ratio is 10:1. the color difference between the two species should be as clear as possible. one of the species is colorless. Tabulated below are several common laboratory pH indicators. such as methyl red. If pH is above the pKa value. phenol red exhibits an orange color between pH 6. Because of the subjective determination of color. Application pH indicators are frequently employed in titrations in analytic chemistry and biology experiments to determine the extent of a chemical reaction. and consequently the pH is pKa + 1. Conversely. While pH indicators work efficiently at their designated pH range. This assumes that solutions retain their color as long as at least 10% of the other species persists. both species are present in 1:1 ratio. The transition range may shift slightly depending on the concentration of the indicator in the solution and on the temperature at which it is used. if the concentration of the conjugate base is ten times greater than the concentration of the acid. if there is a tenfold excess of the acid with respect to the base. For example. it falls between the pKa value plus or minus one. .The equation. whereas in other indicators. If pH is below the pKa value. the color change is not instantaneous at the pKa value. but as a rule of thumb. and the color associated with the conjugate base dominates. and the narrower the pH range of the color change the better. For example. but there is a pH range where a mixture of colors is present. both species confer a color. the converse is true. states that when pH equals the pKa value of the indicator. the concentration of the conjugate base is greater than the concentration of the acid. a pH meter is frequently used. For optimal accuracy. This pH range varies between indicators. the ratio is 1:10 and the pH is pKa – 1. Usually. pH indicators are susceptible to imprecise readings. they are usually destroyed at the extreme ends of the pH scale due to undesired side-reactions.8 and pH 8. derived from the acidity constant. For applications requiring precise measurement of pH. In some indicators.

8 8.2–12.6–14 1.2–2.0 3.4 4.5–5.4 6.4 3.8–8.0–5.2–6.6 2.5 10.0 11.0–2.5-8.Indicator Gentian violet (Methyl violet) Leucomalachite green (first transition) Leucomalachite green (second transition) Thymol blue (first transition) Thymol blue (second transition) Methyl yellow Bromophenol blue Congo red Methyl orange Bromocresol green Methyl red Methyl red Azolitmin Bromocresol purple Bromothymol blue Phenol red Neutral red Naphtholphthalein Cresol Red Phenolphthalein Thymolphthalein Alizarine Yellow R Litmus Low pH color yellow yellow green red yellow red yellow blue-violet red yellow red red red yellow yellow yellow red colorless to reddish yellow colorless colorless yellow red Transition pH range 0.0 0.3–10.0–4.3–10.5–8.2–8.1–4.0–7.6 3.8 6.8 8.0–9.0 9.2 4.0 7.3–8.3 5.7 7.0 3.4–6.8–8.6 6.0–2.2 4.3 High pH color blue-violet green colorless yellow blue yellow purple red orange blue yellow green blue purple blue red yellow greenish to blue reddish-purple fuchsia blue red blue .0 4.8–5.9–4.

. berries (blueberries. Anthocyanins can be extracted from a multitude of colored plants or plant parts. and stems (rhubarb).Commercial preparations pH measurement with indicator paper. Extracting anthocyanins from red cabbage leaves or the skin of a lemon to form a crude acid-base indicator is a popular introductory chemistry demonstration. including from leaves (red cabbage). Naturally occurring pH indicators Hydrangeas can change color with soil acidity Many plants or plant parts contain chemicals from the naturally-colored anthocyanin family of compounds. Universal indicator (also known as the litmus test) and Hydrion papers are blends of different indicators that exhibits several smooth color changes over a very wide range of pH values. They are red in acidic solutions and blue in basic. blackcurrant). poppy. flowers (geranium. or rose petals).

blotted with a clean tissue to absorb any remaining water which could dilute the sample and thus alter the reading. For normal use calibration should be performed at the beginning of each day. and then quickly immersed in another solution. It is typically kept immersed in an acidic solution of around pH 3. acidified tap water can be used. A typical pH meter consists of a special measuring probe (a glass electrode) connected to an electronic meter that measures and displays the pH reading. For general purposes buffers at pH 4 and pH 10 are acceptable.pH meter From Wikipedia. Calibration and use For very precise work the pH meter should be calibrated before each measurement. After each single measurement. but distilled or deionised water must never be used for longer-term probe storage as the relatively ionless water "sucks" ions out of the probe through diffusion.f. search A pH meter A pH meter is an electronic instrument used to measure the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of a liquid (though special probes are sometimes used to measure the pH of semi-solid substances). over longer periods of time.06 volts per pH unit) with the pH scale.m. the free encyclopedia Jump to:navigation. which can be obtained from a variety of suppliers. The reason for this is that the glass electrode does not give a reproducible e. which degrades it. the probe is rinsed with distilled water or deionized water to remove any traces of the solution being measured.0. Calibration should be performed with at least two standard buffer solutions that span the range of pH values to be measured. The calibration process correlates the voltage produced by the probe (approximately 0. The pH meter has one control (calibrate) to set the meter reading equal to the value of the first standard buffer and a second control (slope) which is used to adjust the meter reading to the value of the second buffer. . the probe tip must be kept wet at all times. A third control allows the temperature to be set. When not in use. Standard buffer sachets. usually state how the buffer value changes with temperature. In an emergency.

methanol. Specialty meters and probes are available for use in special applications. A Universal indicator is a pH indicator composed of a blend of several compounds that exhibits several smooth colour changes over a pH value range from 1-14 to indicate the acidity or basicity of solutions. see Universal Indicator (music). phenolphthalein sodium salt. harsh environments. redox). generally a 0.1 M solution of Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) is used [1]. the free encyclopedia Jump to:navigation. and thymol blue monosodium salt [4] . search This article is about the chemical pH indicator.[2] Experiments with Yamada's Universal Indicator are also described in the Journal of Chemical Education.[1] Details of this patent can be found in Chemical Abstracts. Cheaper models sometimes require that temperature measurements be entered to adjust for the slight variation in pH caused by temperature. etc. For the musical artists. bromothymol blue monosodium salt.[3] Details A universal indicator is typically composed of water. having a pH of about one. Pocket pH meters are readily available today for a few tens of dollars that automatically compensate for temperature (ATC. and temperature sensors such as thermoresistors or thermocouples. Automatic Temperature Compensation) Universal indicator From Wikipedia. Although there are a number of commercially available universal pH indicators. reference electrodes. methyl red. propan-1-ol.Occasionally (about once a month). most are a variation of a formula patented by Yamada in 1923. Types of pH meters A simple pH meter pH meters range from simple and inexpensive pen-like devices to complex and expensive laboratory instruments with computer interfaces and several inputs for indicator (ionsensitive. the probe may be cleaned using pH-electrode cleaning solution.

Colour matching charts are supplied with the specific test strips purchased. see Litmus.3 at 25 °C.The colours that indicate the pH of a solution. For the political term. Litmus test From Wikipedia. . the chromophore of litmus components Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens. search This article is about the chemical test. Under acidic conditions the solution is red. Blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions and red litmus paper turns blue under basic (i. alkaline) conditions with the color change occurring over the pH range 4. It is often absorbed onto filter paper to produce one of the oldest forms of pH indicator. after adding a universal indicator are: pH range Description Colour 0-3 Strong acid Red 3-6 Acid Orange/Yellow 7 Neutral Green 8-11 Base Blue 11-14 Strong Base Purple There are now also available wide range pH test papers with distinct colours for each pH from 1 to 14.[1] Litmus can also be prepared as an aqueous solution that functions similarly. For other uses. used to test materials for acidity. see Litmus test (politics).e. Neutral litmus paper is purple in color.5-8. Litmus powder Chemical structure of 7-hydroxyphenoxazone. the free encyclopedia Jump to:navigation. especially Roccella tinctoria. and under basic conditions the solution is blue.

Most of the chemical components of litmus are likely to be the same as of the related mixture known as orcein. Sweden). the principal constituent of litmus has average molecular weight of 3300.[5] This reaction is irreversible and therefore the litmus is not acting as an indicator in this situation. Lecanora tartarea (Norway. Azolitmin shows nearly the same effect as litmus. which is alkaline. Parmotrema tinctorum and Parmelia. Variolaria dealbata. Wet litmus paper can also be used to test water-soluble gases. ammonia gas. spaniolitmin.[3] Some fractions of litmus were given specific names including erythrolitmin (or erythrolein). For instance. azolitmin. the main sources are Roccella montagnei (Mozambique) and Dendrographa leucophoea (California Uses The main use of litmus is to test whether the solution is acidic or alkaline.[2] Acid-base indicators on litmus owe their properties to a 7-hydroxyphenoxazone chromophore. Roccella pygmaea (Algeria). colors the litmus paper blue. the gas dissolves in the water and the resulting solution colors the litmus paper. Formerly. Currently. Roccella phycopsis. the dyes would be extracted from such species as Roccella tinctoria (South America). Roccella fuciformis (Angola and Madagascar). Chemical reactions other than acid-base chemistry can also cause a color-change to litmus paper. . leucoorcein and leucazolitmin. For instance.[4] Natural sources Parmelia sulcata Litmus can be found in different species of lichens. but in different proportions. chlorine gas turns blue litmus paper white – the litmus paper is bleached. Ochrolechia parella. In contrast with orcein.The litmus mixture has the CAS number 1393-92-6 and contains 10 to 15 different dyes.

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