[Note 2: Commercial sodium hydroxide is usually impure and always contains more or less carbonate; an allowance is therefore made for this impurity by placing the weight taken at 23 grams per liter. If the hydroxide is known to be pure, a lesser amount (say 21 grams) will suffice.]
Procedure.—Rinse a previously calibrated burette three times with the hydrochloric acid solution, using 10 cc. each time, and allowing the liquid to run out through the tip to displace all water and air from that part of the burette. Then fill the burette with the acid solution. Carry out the same procedure with a second burette, using the sodium hydroxide solution.
The acid solution may be placed in a plain or in a glass-stoppered burette as may be more convenient, but the alkaline solution should never be allowed to remain long in a glass-stoppered burette, as it tends to cement the stopper to the burette, rendering it useless. It is preferable to use a plain burette for this solution.
When the burettes are ready for use and all air bubbles displaced from the tip (see Note 2, page 17) note the exact position of the liquid in each, and record the readings in the notebook. (Consult page 188.) Run out from the burette into a beaker about 40 cc. of the acid and add two drops of a solution of methyl orange; dilute the acid to about 80 cc. and run out alkali solution from the other burette, stirring constantly, until the pink has given place to a yellow. Wash down the sides of the beaker with a little distilled water if the solution has spattered upon them, return the beaker to the acid burette, and add acid to restore the pink; continue these alternations until the point is accurately fixed at which a single drop of either solutions served to produce a distinct change of color. Select as the final end-point the appearance of the faintest pink tinge which can be recognized, or the disappearance of this tinge, leaving a pure yellow; but always titrate to the same point (Note 1). If the titration has occupied more than the three minutes required for draining the sides of the burette, the final reading may be taken immediately and recorded in the notebook.
Refill the burettes and repeat the titration. From the records of calibration already obtained, correct the burette readings and make corrections for temperature, if necessary. Obtain the ratio of the sodium hydroxide solution to that of hydrochloric acid by dividing the number of cubic centimeters of acid used by the number of cubic centimeters of alkali required for neutralization. The check results of the two titrations should not vary by more than two parts in one thousand (Note 2). If the variation in results is greater than this, refill the burettes and repeat the titration until satisfactory values are obtained. Use a new page in the notebook for each titration. Inaccurate values should not be erased or discarded. They should be retained and marked “correct” or “incorrect,” as indicated by the final outcome of the titrations. This custom should be rigidly followed in all analytical work.