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LEB

10.06

The pH of various water samples

Related topics
pH of water samples, demineralised water, aquarium
water, rainwater, lake water, river water, drinking water,
mineral water, seasonal and daily fluctuations, buffering
effect, poisoning effect for animals
Principle and task
To determine the pH-values of various water samples. To
discuss the reasons for the big differences in pH-value
Equipment (for the experimental procedure using the
Chem Unit)
Cobra3 Chem Unit
12153.00* 1
Cobra3 power supply
12151.99 1
RS232 data cable
14602.00 1
Software Cobra3 Chem Unit
14520.61* 1
pH electrode, gel-filled, BNC
46265.10* 1
Immersion probe NiCr-Ni, Teflon
13615.05* 1
Wash bottle, 500 ml
33931.00 1
Beaker, DURAN, tall form, 50 ml
36001.00 2
Beaker, DURAN, tall form, 150 ml
36003.00 7
Support base, variable
02001.00 1
Support rod, l = 500 mm, stainless steel 02032.00 1

Right angle clamp (bosshead)


02043.00 1
Double electrode holder
45284.10 1
Buffer solution pH 4.01, 460 ml
46270.11 1
Buffer solution pH 10.01, 460 ml
46272.11 1
Distilled water, 5 l
31246.81 1
Water samples: Aquarium water, rainwater, lake water,
river water, drinking water, mineral water
PC, Windows 95 or higher

Set-up and procedure (using the Chem Unit)


Set the apparatus up as shown in Fig. 1
Connect the pH electrode to the pH input and the
immersion probe to the temperature input T1 of the
Chem Unit
Call up the Cobra3 Measure programme in Windows
and assign the Chem Unit as measuring instrument
Set the measurement parameters as shown in Fig. 2.
In the <Displays...> menu, set both Digital display 1
and Diagram 1a (range 1-9 #) to pH (range 5 to 10)
Set the temperature compensation in the <Preferences / pH> menu to temperature probe T1:
pH(comp.T1)

Fig. 1: Experimental set-up using the Chem Unit

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

P4100611/40

97

LEB
10.06

The pH of various water samples

Calibrate the pH electrode by pouring the two buffer


solutions into separate 50 ml beakers and calling up
<Calibrate / pH>. Should the electrode which is to be
used have already been recently calibrated, however,
then a new calibration is not necessary (automatic
saving of calibration data)
Fix the double electrode holder to the rod of the support stand with a right angle clamp
Approximately half-fill a 150 ml beaker with distilled
(demineralized) water and place it near the stand
Use the double electrode clamp to hold and so adjust
the positions of the pH electrode and the immersion
probe, that they are completely immersed in the water
Start measurement with <Continue> and <Start
value>; the first measured value is then displayed
Half-fill a 150 ml beaker with water from a different
deionizing unit, immerse the electrodes, wait a
moment, then activate measurement with <Save
value>
Repeat as for distilled water with aquarium water, rain
water, lake water, river water, drinking water, and two
different sorts of mineral water
At the end of the measurement, save the data in menu
<File> <Save measurement as...>
Results and evaluation
Many processes which are essential for life require a
certain pH range for them to proceed optimally. The
pH of a standing water can change cyclically with the
seasons or in the course of a day. Different pH values
can also be found in the various horizontal and vertical zones.
The measurement of pH so allows a description of the
condition of the water, and supplies information on
impairment by the introduction of H3O+ ions by acids
(e.g. nitric acid and sulphuric acid). In this experiment,
the pH values of various water samples are to be
determined.
Fig. 3 shows a curve, as is displayed by the programme after ending the measurement. The individual
measured values are listed in the following Table:

n
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

98

Water sample
Demineralized water 1
Demineralized water 2
Aquarium water
Rainwater
Lake water
River water
Drinking water
Mineral water 1
Mineral water 2

P4100611/40

The pH of a body of a water depends essentially on


the equilibrium of the free carbonic acid with carbonate and bicarbonate. In lime-rich waters, the pH is
extensively constant, because of the buffering effect
of this system. In waters of medium hardness, the pH
is frequently in the region of the neutral point (pH =
6.5-7.5), in soft and CO2 rich waters it is roughly
between 5 and 6, and in waters very rich in carbonic
acid it can drop to 4.5-4. In waters rich in carbonate it
can increase up to 9. At very low pH values, the presence of iron and aluminium is dangerous for fish and
spawns. At high pH values, the poisoning effect of
ammonium compounds increases. When the pH
drops below 5.5 or goes above 9, life is impossible in
the long run.

Fig. 2: Measurement parameters (Chem Unit)

Fig. 3: Display of the measured pH values

pH
5.57
5.79
6.61
7.86
7.95
7.99
8.22
8.56
9.31

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

LEB
10.06

The pH of various water samples

The water samples from river and lake were taken in


the afternoon, when the pH reaches its highest value
because of the CO2 demand of the life in them.
EC Guidelines require drinking water to have a pH of
between 6.5 and 8.5. Mineral water 1 with a dissolved
salts content of 750 mg/l had a lower pH than mineral water 2 with approx. 4500 mg/l dissolved salts content.

Experimental procedure using the Basic Unit


The experiment using the Chem Unit described above can
be analogously carried out using the Basic Unit. For this,
the entries in the list of materials which are marked with
an asterisk must be replaced by the materials listed
below. The set-up and procedure are then also slightly different (see below, in particular Fig. 4 and Fig. 5).
Fig. 5: Measurement parameters (Basic Unit)
Changes in the materials required for use of the Basic Unit:
Cobra3 Basic Unit
12150.00
1
Software Cobra3 pH/potential
14509.61
1
Measuring module pH/potential
12101.00
1
pH Electrode, plastic, gel-filled
18450.00
1
Temperature sensor, semiconductor type 12120.00
1

Set-up and procedure using the Basic Unit


Prepare the set-up as in Fig. 4
Connect the pH electrode to the pH measuring module and the temperature sensor to input S2 of the
Basic Unit

Fig. 4: Experimental set-up using the Basic Unit

Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen

P4100611/40

99

LEB
10.06

The pH of various water samples

Call up the Cobra3 Measure programme in Windows


and assign Cobra3 pH/Potential as measuring instrument
Set the measurement parameters as shown in Fig. 5
Set the temperature compensation to <Automatic>
(temperature probe S2)
Carry on from here as with the Chem Unit

This experiment can also be carried out using handheld measuring instrument pH 07139.00, pH electrode
46265.10, pH software 14419.61 and data cable 07157.01.

Note
The measurement can also be carried out without a temperature probe, but then the temperature of the solution
must be entered by hand in the menu <Preferences / pH>,
or, when using the Basic Unit, in the field <Temperature
compensation>.

100

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Phywe Series of publication Laboratory Experiments Biology PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG D-37070 Gttingen