Gravimetric Analysis (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)
A gravimetric analysis is one in which a sample is subjected to some treatment that causes a change in the physical state of the analyte that permits its separation from the other components of the sample. Mass measurements of the sample, the isolated analyte, or some other component of the analysis system, used along with the known stoichiometry of the compounds involved, permit calculation of the analyte concentration. Gravimetric methods were the first techniques used for quantitative chemical analysis, and they remain important tools in the modern chemistry laboratory.
The required change of state in a gravimetric analysis may be achieved by various physical and chemical processes. For example, the moisture (water) content of a sample is routinely determined by measuring the mass of a sample before and after it is subjected to a controlled heating process that evaporates the water. The precipitate is typically isolated from the reaction mixture by filtration, carefully dried, and then weighed. The mass of the precipitate may then be used, along with relevant stoichiometric relationships, to calculate analyte concentration.
The elemental composition of hydrocarbons and related compounds may be determined via a gravimetric method known as combustion analysis. In a combustion analysis, a weighed sample of the compound is heated to a high temperature under a stream of oxygen gas, resulting in its complete combustion to yield gaseous products of known identities. The complete combustion of hydrocarbons, for example, will yield carbon dioxide and water as the only products. The gaseous combustion products are swept through separate, preweighed collection devices containing compounds that selectively absorb each product. The mass increase of each device corresponds to the mass of the absorbed product and may be used in an appropriate stoichiometric calculation to derive the mass of the relevant element.
Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e
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