Gravimetric Analysis


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A photo is shown of a flask and funnel used for filtration. The flask contains a slightly opaque liquid filtrate with a slight yellow tint. A funnel, which contains a bright yellow and orange material, sits atop the flask. The flask is held in place by a clamp and is connected to a vacuum line. The connection between the funnel and flask is sealed with a rubber bung or gasket.
Precipitate may be removed from a reaction mixture by filtration. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Gravimetric Analysis (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

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.

This diagram shows an arrow pointing from O subscript 2 into a tube that leads into a vessel containing a red material, labeled “Sample.” This vessel is inside a blue container with a red inner lining which is labeled “Furnace.” An arrow points from the tube to the right into the vessel above the red sample material. An arrow leads out of this vessel through a tube into a second vessel outside the furnace. An line points from this tube to a label above the diagram that reads “C O subscript 2, H subscript 2 O, O subscript 2, and other gases.” Many small green spheres are visible in the second vessel which is labeled below, “H subscript 2 O absorber such as M g ( C l O subscript 4 ) subscript 2.” An arrow points to the right through the vessel, and another arrow points right heading out of the vessel through a tube into a third vessel. The third vessel contains many small blue spheres. It is labeled “C O subscript 2 absorber such as N a O H.” An arrow points right through this vessel, and a final arrow points out of a tube at the right end of the vessel. Outside the end of this tube at the end of the arrow is the label, “O subscript 2 and other gases.”
This schematic diagram illustrates the basic components of a combustion analysis device for determining the carbon and hydrogen content of a sample. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Related Research: Research Article: Validation of a light-scattering PM2.5 sensor monitor based on the long-term gravimetric measurements in field tests


Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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