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Discovery of pH through Qualitative Analysis

Amaya Holliday


In the lab Qualitative Analysis of Solutions to Measure pH, the goal was to use different
indicator solutions to find the pH of solutions A, B, C, D, and E. PH stands for potential
hydrogen and pH is measured by the concentration of hydrogen ions. PH is measured on a
scale, zero being the most acidic an example would be battery acid and 14 being the most
alkaline which would be sodium hydroxide (lye). Something that is neutral is in the middle of the
scale at seven, examples include pure water and blood. Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius
created the acids and bases scale when wanting to classify certain compounds based on the
types of ions the solution produced when added to water. He defines acids as any substance
that increases the number of Hydrogen protons in an aqueous (water) solution. Additionally, he
defines bases as the increase of hydroxide concentration in an aqueous (water) solution.
Finally, in this lab, we collected quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data being,
the number of the pH and the qualitative being the color/ color changes we observed.

In this lab, we used indicator solutions to figure out the pHs of our mystery solutions. Indicator
solutions changed the colors of the known pHs (2,4,7,10,12). The solutions ranged from Methyl
Red to Phenolphthalein. The job of these indicator solutions was to change the colors of the
clear pH liquids, based on the color changes you could then determine the pHs of the mystery


Table 1 indicates all the tests with the known pH solutions by the indicator solutions.
Indicator Indicator pH10 pH12
Solution: Color: pH2 (color): pH4 (color): pH7 (color): (color): (color):
Phenolphthalein clear milky less milky clear bright pink bright pink
dark green
Bromtymol blue yellow lighter yellow green dark blue dark blue
Methyl orange light orange pink orange lighter yellow yellow yellow
Methyl red red pink pink yellow yellow yellow
Thymolphthalein clear yellow/green light pink clear blue dark blue
green dark blue yellow green dark blue dark blue dark blue
Alizarin yellow R yellow yellow yellow yellow light orange orange
Thymol blue dark green reddish orange yellow light yellow dark blue dark blue
Table 2 represents the tests we conducted with the unknown solutions and the indicator
Indicator Indicator Unknown A Unknown B Unknown C Unknown D Unknown E
Solution: Color: (color): (color): (color): (color): (color):
1 clear clear milky dark pink milky dark pink
Methyl orange 2 orange orange pink yellow yellow yellow
Alizarin yellow
R 3 yellow yellow yellow orange yellow light orange
Bromthymol 4 dark green lighter yellow yellow dark blue green dark blue

This flowchart represents the test we did and how we justified our results.

Solution A: 4
Solution B: 2
Solution C: 12
Solution D: 7
Solution E: 10


As a group, we tested the pH 2, 4, 7, 10, and 12 solutions with all the indicator solutions. Then
based on the finding from those tests we decided the four tests we should complete with the
unknown solutions should be Phenolphthalein, Methyl Orange, Alizarin Yellow, and
Bromothymol. The first test we did was Phenolphthalein because it distinguished between the
higher pHs (dark pink) and the lower pHs (milky or clear). Once we found UnKnown C and E
were dark pink we concluded they were either pH 10 or pH 12. Next, we tested Methyl Orange
with the unknowns. From this test we could assume Solution A was pH 4 and Solution B was 2
because Solution B was pink and Solution A was 4. In the tests with the known pH values, pH 4
turned orange and pH 2 turned pink when tested with Methyl Orange. Next, to find the pH 10
and 12 my lab partners and I tested Alizarin Yellow. When Alizarin Yellow was tested with the
known pHs, pH 10 was a light orange and pH 12 was orange (all the other pHs changed to
yellow). When we tested it with the unknowns, Solution E was light orange and Solution C was
orange, from this we can conclude Solution C is pH 12 and Solution E is pH 10. Finally, to
distinguish pH 7 we tested with Bromothymol. When it was tested with the known pHs, pH 7 was
a distinct green. After Bromothymol was tested with the unknowns, Solution D was green, based
on that test we can deduce Solution D was 7.

After we conducted all the test, I was given the pH Ranges and Color Change of KODAK
Indicators, to fact check our work. When we tested Phenolphthalein it ranged from clear (pH 7),
milky (pH 2 & 4), to dark pink (pH 10 & 12.) This was different from the fact-checking sheet
which showed the solutions should be completely colorless before pH 8. This could mean the
result from our test could have been contaminated. Additionally, when comparing the tests done
with Alizarin Yellow the results coincide. All the pHs lower than pH 10 were yellow and from pH
10 up the color slowly morphed to red. This made sense because pH 12 was orange and after
12 the color goes the red.

Hypothetical Data Set and Flowchart

Indicator pH10 pH12

Solution: Indicator Color: pH2 (color): pH4 (color): pH7 (color): (color): (color):
Thymolphthalein clear yellow/green light pink clear blue dark blue
green dark blue yellow green dark blue dark blue dark blue
Thymol blue dark green orange yellow light yellow dark blue dark blue

Through our tests it has been established pH 4 is Solution A and pH 2 is Solution B. Based on
the data we initially conducted for Thymolphthalein, pH 2 it was a yellow/green and pH 4 was
light pink. This means if Thymolphthalein was added to Solution A is would turn pink and if it
was added to Solution B it would turn yellow/green. Moving on to Bromcresol, in the original
tests pH 2 was yellow and pH 4 was green. From this it can be concluded Solution A would be
green and Solution B would be yellow. Finally, Thymol Blue, when it was tested with the known
pHs, pH 2 was red/orange and pH 4 was yellow. These results mean if Solution A was added to
it, the solution would change to yellow and if Solution B was added to it, the color would change
to red/orange.

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