SYSTEMATIC QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS
Analysis always does not mean breaking of substance into its ultimate constituents. Finding out the nature of substance and identity of its constituents is also analysis and is known as qualitative analysis. Qualitative analysis of inorganic salts means the identification of cations and anions present in the salt or a mixture of salts. Inorganic salts may be obtained by complete or partial neutralisation of acid with base or vice-versa. In the formation of a salt, the part contributed by the acid is called anion and the part contributed by the base is called cation. For example, in the salts CuSO4 and NaCl, Cu2+ and Na+ ions are cations and SO42– and Cl– ions are anions. Qualitative analysis is carried out on various scales. Amount of substance employed in these is different. In macro analysis, 0.1 to 0.5 g of substance and about 20 mL of solution is used. For semimicro analysis, 0.05 g substance and 1 mL solution is needed while for micro analysis amount required is very small. Qualitative analysis is carried out through the reactions which are easily perceptible to our senses such as sight and smell. Such reactions involve:
(a) Formation of a precipitate
(b) Change in colour
(c) Evolution of gas etc.
Systematic analysis of an inorganic salt involves the following steps:
(i) Preliminary examination of solid salt and its solution.
(ii) Determination of anions by reactions carried out in solution (wet tests) and confirmatory tests.
(iii) Determination of cations by reactions carried out in solution (wet tests) and confirmatory tests.
Preliminary examination of a salt often furnishes important information, which simplifies further course of analysis. Although these tests are not conclusive but sometimes they give quite important clues for the presence of certain anions or cations. These tests can be performed within 10–15 minutes. These involve noting the general appearance and physical properties, such as colour, smell, solubility etc. of the salt. These are named as dry tests. Heating of dry salt, blow pipe test, flame tests, borax bead test, sodium carbonate bead test, charcoal cavity test etc. come under dry tests. Some of these tests are given later in this unit.