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Investigating the hardness of water


Hardness of water is due to the presence of dissolved calcium and magnesium
salts. The calcium and magnesium ions can form a complex with an indicator
called eriochrome black T. At pH 10 the complex is purple /red.

Ca 2+(aq)+ eriochrome black Taq) → Ca (eriochrome black T) 2+(aq)
purple /red

You can determine the hardness of a sample by titrating the complexed calcium
and magnesium ions with a solution of EDTA *(ethylene diamine tetra acetic
acid). The EDTA (represented as H2Y2¯) anion also combines with the calcium
and magnesium ions to form a stable complex.

Ca 2+(aq)+ H2Y2¯(aq) → CaY2¯(aq) )+ 2H+( (aq)

When you add EDTA to a solution the EDTA displaces the indicator as it forms a
more stable complex with the metal ion. The ligand displacement is indicated by
a colour change from purple /red to grey/blue.

Ca (eriochrome black T) 2+(aq) + H2Y2¯(aq) → CaY2¯(aq) + eriochrome black T(aq) + 2H+ (aq)
purple /red grey/blue

As hydrogen ions are produced the solution must be buffered to prevent the pH
of the solution changing.

*The disodium salt is used in practice as this dissolves in solution to give the
EDTA anion.

Practical Techniques

You will need to find out about volumetric analysis (titrations) and how to make
up accurate solutions. You will also need to find out how to use a pH meter.

Where to start

Plan an experiment using EDTA to determine the degree of hardness in a sample
of water.

Possible Investigations

 Investigate the methods of softening hard water

 Boiling

Chemistry Review. Vogel’s Textbook of Quantitative Chemical Analysis. Barnes J.. November 1995  http://www. September 1998  Mendham J. Chemistry Review. (2001).5.. Thomas M. Pearson Education Ltd... England  Denby D.C. Unilever Educational Booklet: Advanced Series (2000). September 1996  Lindsey  Thorpe A. Titrations.chem. What’s in Water?. September 2000 67 . Assessing the risks in practical work. Water. November 2002  Ferguson M. Chemistry Review.. November 2002  Ferguson M. February 2003  Thorpe A. Investigate how pH affects the sharpness of the end –point.. The Association for Science Education..pacificu. Chemistry Review.. Measuring pH. Making a standard solution.  Battye P.. Chemistry Review. Making a standard solution.  Sources indicate that the indicator is sensitive to the presence of other metal ions. Investigate the effect of ions that may interfere with the endpoint. Chemistry Review. (2000).. Volumetric Analysis. Denney R. School Chemistry Experiments. September 1996  Shipton M.. Unilever  Farley R. Chemistry Review. Chemistry Review.... Volumetric Analysis.  Adding sodium carbonate  Passing through an ion exchange column  Using commercial water softening products  Sources indicate that for this method to work the pH must be kept above 7. Sources of Information  The Chemistry Video Consortium and The Royal Society of Chemistry (2000) Practical Chemistry for Schools and Colleges CD ROM  Thorpe A.

Experimental error and error analysis: just how good are those results. buffer solutions to calibrate pH meter. Essential Equipment Burettes.. Thorpe A. pipettes. There are more details in Vogel. Complexes. pH meter. Essential Chemicals Disodium salt of EDTA. 68 . The titration is sometimes difficult to carry out because the colour change at the endpoint can be difficult to see. It is essential that students prepare a detailed risk assessment before they start. Safety No risk assessment has been given. Transition metals. Chemical Principles Volumetric analysis. Eriochrome black T indicator. Teachers must be satisfied that this is suitable for the proposed investigation. However if students make a solution of calcium ions Eriochrome black T gives a poor end-point. November 2001 Teachers' Notes General This investigation is based around a well-known experiment. It may be worth trying out the technique on a solution whose composition is known to check that the technique works. ammonium chloride. This is due to the interference of other ions. ammonia. If some Magnesium ions are present the endpoint is easier to see. Chemistry Review.

69 . The solution should turn red. Experiment Starter Sheet – Investigating the hardness of water You should prepare the following solutions  0. You should then titrate this with the EDTA solution until a definite colour change occurs.01 mol dm-3 disodium salt of EDTA  ammonia – ammonium chloride buffer pH 10 (7g ammonium chloride and 57 cm3 concentrated ammonia solution made up to 100 cm 3 with distilled water)  Eriochrome black T indicator solution You will need to think about how much of each solution to prepare. This will depend on how much of the solution is used in each experiment and how many experiments you do (including any repeats). Then add a few drops of indicator to the sample. You need to use a pipette to take a suitable sized sample of water (you could start with 50 cm3) and adjust the pH to 10 using the buffer solution.