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Use of Titration

By Contributor; Updated April 24, 2017

Titration is the volumetric analysis of the concentration of an unknown solution (the titer) of a known
reagent. A measured amount of a solution of unknown concentration is added to a known volume of a
second solution until the reaction between them is just complete. Titration is also known as “volumetric
analysis,” because the measurement of volume plays a key role in titration. The substance used in a
reagent solution of precisely known concentration is called “titrant.” A glass tube called a burette is used
to deliver the measured quantities of solution that has been consumed.

History and Etymology

The word “titration” originates from the Latin word “titulus,” which means message or title. According
to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “titration is a method or the process of determining the
concentration of a dissolved substance in terms of the smallest amount of a reagent of known
concentration required to bring about a given effect in reaction with a known volume of the test
solution.”

The overwhelming contribution of French chemistry led to the development of quantitative chemical
analysis. For example, the burette was first prepared by a French chemist, Francois Antoine Henri
Descroizilles in 1791. Primitive burettes were more of a graduated cylinder, but it was modified and
adjusted by another French chemist, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, in 1824. The new version of the burette
also included a side arm.

Food Processing Industry

Titration is frequently used in the food processing industry in determining the amount of a known base
to be added to a batch of waste vegetable oil. It is a valid method for creating the alternative to
petrochemicals, biodiesel. An alkali is added drop by drop until the sample of waste vegetable oil
becomes neutralized. Simultaneously, the pH of the sample is tested for the desired reading of 8.5.

Acid Number
In chemistry, acid number (or acid value) refers to the amount of potassium hydroxide or caustic potash
in mg which can chemically neutralize 1 g of a chemical substance. Acid number is used to determine the
quantity of acid present in a chemical matter, for instance, in a sample of vegetable oil.

Acid-Base Titration

The free fatty acid (i.e., any of the saturated or unsaturated carboxylic acids) content in a substrate can
be found out through acid-base titration with a color indicator such as phenolphthalein (a brilliant red
indicator in alkalis).

Education

Titration is a common laboratory practice in chemistry. Moreover, a chemistry student’s propensity can
be judged through this test.