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Topic: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid  (Read 15572 times)

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Offline LilyFFC

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Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« on: February 07, 2011, 12:58:11 PM »
We were given a lab in which we first standardized NaOH by titrating it with a solution containing KHC8H4O4 and phenolphthalein. The equivalence point was measured when the solution went from colourless to light pink.

We then took the standardized NaOH solution (0.113 mol dm-3) and titrated it with a solution of H2C2O4 - oxalic acid (0.0835 mol dm-3) and phenolphthalein. The equivalence point of this dissociation was found when the light pink solution went colourless.

From this, it is required that I find the Ka value of oxalic acid.

By using the dissociation H2C2O4 --> H+ + HC2O4- I have formed the following equation and have substituted [H2C2O4] = 0.0835 mol dm-3:

Ka = [H+] [HC2O4-] / [H2C2O4]

How would I go about finding the concentrations of the two unknown values? Or is there another way of doing so?

Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2011, 01:04:27 PM »
well, first of all, what does the transition from pink to colorless mean?

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 01:12:36 PM »
Would it not be an indicator of the equivalence point at which the amount of base in the solution is equal to the amount of acid?

Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2011, 01:19:50 PM »
Indeed it indicates a transition point in the phenolphtalein, which pH does it indicate?

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 01:21:59 PM »
I'm not sure I understand what you mean - we did not measure pH in this lab, at least not directly..


Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 01:25:16 PM »
an indicator is used exactly for that: it indicates the pH due to a color shift in the indicator when the solution they are in reaches a certain pH value.

So please again tell me the exact procedure you did when titrating the oxalic acid.

Which is the titrant? what was the analyte? How much volume? 

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 01:31:38 PM »
Okay.

50.0 mL of the oxalic acid was in a burette and was titrated into 25.0cm3 of NaOH in the conical flask below the burette. The NaOH had 2 drops of phenolphthalein in it. On average, 23.2 mL of the oxalic acid was required to reach the equivalence point.

Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 02:04:24 PM »
there you go.

Now, you know the concentration of the sodium hydroxide you said in your first post, right?
Or you determined it, either way I am going to assume you know it)

So you know the concentration of OH- in your solution, right?

then check this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenolphthalein
for you the transition that matters is the pink-to-colorless transition at higher pH, which occurs at a pH of about 8.2.


So now you know the original concentration of OH-, you know the amount of oxalic acid you added, and you know the end concentration of OH-

so you can calculate how many H+ of the oxalic acid was used to neutralize the NaOH.

which should give you the amount of C2O42- and HC2O4- you have left in solution. And from the pH you know the [H+]

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 02:18:40 PM »
Okay, I think I'm understanding this more now...

Yes, I know [NaOH] - is that value equal to [OH-]initial?

And I'm not sure how to calculate the [OH-]end or the [H+]. Would it be imprecise to determine [H+] from the pH of the indicator at 8.2?

Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2011, 02:22:23 PM »
I believe you have to estimate it from the indicator pH, else why add the indicator at all?
And yes, NaOH is a strong base that can be assumed to be totally dissociated.

Offline Borek

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 02:30:02 PM »
Sorry to jump in, but this sounds like the most idiotic lab I have seen in my life. If my calculations are OK determined pKa is over 4 units off. This approach can't give reasonable result, especially for oxalic acid.
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Offline DevaDevil

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2011, 02:39:19 PM »
I agree with you, Borek. I have not calculated any values, but using a base-indicator for an acid pKa determination does not sound very sensible indeed.

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 02:44:21 PM »
No, it doesn't make sense - it's just what my teacher has given us :/

So in order to determine the ka of oxalic acid, what calculation must I do? Why am I trying to find C2O42- and HC2O4-and how do I find [OH-]end?

Offline LilyFFC

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2011, 02:49:49 PM »
This might explain the use of phenolphthalein as an indicator:

http://ww.chemistry-react.org/go/textonly/Faq/Faq_30025.html

Offline Borek

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Re: Finding the Ka value of oxalic acid
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 02:58:16 PM »
So in order to determine the ka of oxalic acid, what calculation must I do? Why am I trying to find C2O42- and HC2O4-and how do I find [OH-]end?

Write expression for Ka2 (second stepwise dissociation constant), check what you know and what you don't know.

I agree with you, Borek. I have not calculated any values, but using a base-indicator for an acid pKa determination does not sound very sensible indeed.

That's not the main problem. If end point pH would be close to pKa2, it could be even an interesting experiment, but it is not, so error is out of control. I don't want to write too much, Lily is confused without detailed analysis ;) Perhaps I will add more later.
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