[Note 1: The silica undergoes no change during the ignition beyond the removal of all traces of water; but Hillebrand (!loc. cit.!) has shown that the silica holds moisture so tenaciously that prolonged ignition over the blast lamp is necessary to remove it entirely. This finely divided, ignited silica tends to absorb moisture, and should be weighed quickly.]
[Note 2: Notwithstanding all precautions, the ignited precipitate of silica is rarely wholly pure. It is tested by volatilisation of the silica as silicon fluoride after solution in hydrofluoric acid, and, if the analysis has been properly conducted, the residue, after treatment with the acids and ignition, should not exceed 1 mg.
The acid produces ulceration if brought into contact with the skin, and its fumes are excessively harmful if inhaled.]
[Note 3: The impurities are probably weighed with the original precipitate in the form of oxides. The addition of the sulphuric acid displaces the hydrofluoric acid, and it may be assumed that the resulting sulphates (usually of iron or aluminium) are converted to oxides by the final ignition.
It is obvious that unless the sulphuric and hydrofluoric acids used are known to leave no residue on evaporation, a quantity equal to that employed in the analysis must be evaporated and a correction applied for any residue found.]
[Note 4: If the silicate to be analyzed is shown by a previous qualitative examination to be completely decomposable, it may be directly treated with hydrochloric acid, the solution evaporated to dryness, and the silica dehydrated and further treated as described in the case of the feldspar after fusion.
A silicate which gelatinizes on treatment with acids should be mixed first with a little water, and the strong acid added in small portions with stirring, otherwise the gelatinous silicic acid incloses particles of the original silicate and prevents decomposition. The water, by separating the particles and slightly lessening the rapidity of action, prevents this difficulty. This procedure is one which applies in general to the solution of fine mineral powders in acids.
If a small residue remains undecomposed by the treatment of the silicate with acid, this may be filtered, washed, ignited and fused with sodium carbonate and a solution of the fused mass added to the original acid solution. This double procedure has an advantage, in that it avoids adding so large a quantity of sodium salts as is required for disintegration of the whole of the silicate by the fusion method.]
The problems with which the analytical chemist has to deal are not, as a matter of actual fact, difficult either to solve or to understand. That they appear difficult to many students is due to the fact that, instead of understanding the principles which underlie each of the small number of types into which these problems may be grouped, each problem is approached as an individual puzzle, unrelated to others already solved or explained. This attitude of mind should be carefully avoided.