I am wondering if titrations find use beyond teaching ? I am not doing research in this field - only teaching - and start questioning the interest of spending too much time on these aspects of solution chemistry if it is not really used in labs, be they for academic or industrial purposes. Would anyone have indications on what is the practical/real value of titrations studied in university ?
A good day to you all :-)
Based on your question and answers provided so far, i feel like it is important to add the following:
"Real life" is different for different people. For nerds frequenting these forums real life involves things like research or just tinkering with chemistry in their garage, but for an average Joe, which is what the 99.9% of population is, titrations based applications are far more alien.
For an average Joe example you can use is the act of monitoring your personal pools chemical levels. The test kits that anyone can buy for $50 or less determine the pH of the pool water, free chlorine content, total chlorine content, alkalinity, calcium hardness, CYA concentration. when using these kits you count the number of drops of reagent X to determine some value. These tests are also titrations
. Simply, the test kit manufacturer has done all the chemistry for you, so that the end user can just look at a table and count drops. But never the less, the end user is still performing a titration.
The range of applications of titration techniques is defined or limited by the specific need of the user. I titrate for iron content in my Mn Phosphate parkerizing bath, but an average Joe won't be interested in doing that. Pool water example i gave above is as complicated as an average Joe has a need for or as close as an average Joe has a reason to get to the methods of titration.
What you should relay to the students about titrations is the following:
Titrations are used to determine concentration of some chemical X using a known standard solution of chemical Y. Volume is relatively easy to measure quantity. Since titrations usually use 2 liquid reagents we can use the easily available methods of measuring volumes of the liquids to determine the ratios of the liquids that yield some known end point; which in turn tells us something about the liquid being tested through the ratio to a known standard.
I hope this helps.
Just wanted to add that many people are confused about titrations and think that they are really simple or really complex. The reason for such divergence of opinions is that there are actually 2 separate steps in any titration:
1. Designing the titration - this is where you need a chemist. Someone who knows what reagents interact with what substances and in what way and under what conditions. This is the complicated part.
2. Actually performing the titration - This part can be done my a technician or an average Joe if the chemist in step 1 made the instructions in a very clear step-by-step way. This is the step you are left to do when you buy a test kit.