The sets of weights commonly used in analytical chemistry range from 20 grams to 5 milligrams. The weights from 20 grams to 1 gram are usually of brass, lacquered or gold plated. The fractional weights are of German silver, gold, platinum or aluminium. The rider is of platinum or aluminium wire.
The sets of weights purchased from reputable dealers are usually sufficiently accurate for analytical work. It is not necessary that such a set should be strictly exact in comparison with the absolute standard of weight, provided they are relatively correct among themselves, and provided the same set of weights is used in all weighings made during a given analysis. The analyst should assure himself that the weights in a set previously unfamiliar to him are relatively correct by a few simple tests. For example, he should make sure that in his set two weights of the same denomination (i.e., two 10-gram weights, or the two 100-milligram weights) are actually equal and interchangeable, or that the 500-milligram weight is equal to the sum of the 200, 100, 100, 50, 20, 20 and 10-milligram weights combined, and so on. If discrepancies of more than a few tenths of a milligram (depending upon the total weight involved) are found, the weights should be returned for correction. The rider should also be compared with a 5 or 10-milligram weight.
In an instructional laboratory appreciable errors should be reported to the instructor in charge for his consideration.
When the highest accuracy is desired, the weights may be calibrated and corrections applied. A calibration procedure is described in a paper by T.W. Richards, !J. Am. Chem. Soc.!, 22, 144, and in many large text-books.
Weights are inevitably subject to corrosion if not properly protected at all times, and are liable to damage unless handled with great care. It is obvious that anything which alters the weight of a single piece in an analytical set will introduce an error in every weighing made in which that piece is used. This source of error is often extremely obscure and difficult to detect. The only safeguard against such errors is to be found in scrupulous care in handling and protection on the part of the analyst, and an equal insistence that if several analysts use the same set of weights, each shall realize his responsibility for the work of others as well as his own.
A burette is made from a glass tube which is as uniformly cylindrical as possible, and of such a bore that the divisions which are etched upon its surface shall correspond closely to actual contents.
The tube is contracted at one extremity, and terminates in either a glass stopcock and delivery-tube, or in such a manner that a piece of rubber tubing may be firmly attached, connecting a delivery-tube of glass. The rubber tubing is closed by means of a glass bead. Burettes of the latter type will be referred to as “plain burettes.”