Acids are substances that donate hydrogen ions and bases are substances that accept hydrogen ions. Acids and bases react with each other by transferring hydrogen ions. One way to distinguish an acid is by its equivalent mass, which is the number of grams of the acid needed to transfer one mole of hydrogen ion to a base. For a monoprotic acid, which only transfers one hydrogen ion, its equivalent mass equals its molar mass. For a diprotic acid, which transfers two hydrogen ions, its equivalent mass equals half its molar mass. The equivalent mass of a base is simply the number of grams required to accept one mole of hydrogen ion. The equivalent mass of an acid or base is also equal to the mass of the acid or base titrated divided by the number of equivalents of the acid or base.
Acid strength is measured by how much it dissociates. This is determined by the amount of hydronium ion formed in water. Most often, it is expressed by pH, which equals the –log[H3O+]. The equilibrium constant for an acid is represented by Ka = [H3O+] [A-] / [HA], where HA is the acid and A- is the dissociated acid. When comparing Ka’s, most commonly pKa is used, which is equal to –log Ka.
In this experiment, the pKa of an unknown acid is determined by titrating it with NaOH and graphing its pH levels versus volume of NaOH titrated. The inflection point found by graphing is the equivalence point, and at half that volume is the half-equivalence point. At half equivalence, the [A-] = [HA], so they cancel out in the equation Ka = [H3O+] [A-] / [HA], leaving Ka = [H3O+]. With pH being known, Ka is found by [H3O+] equaling 10-pH, and pKa = pH.
First, about 2 g of an unknown weak acid was obtained. Then about 0.10 to 0.12 g of the acid was weighed out on an analytical scale. This mass was recorded to 4 decimal places. The acid was then transferred to a clean