Procedure.—Weigh out into Erlenmeyer flasks two portions of iron wire of about 0.25 gram each. Dissolve these in hot dilute sulphuric acid (5 cc. of concentrated acid and 100 cc. of water), using a covered flask to avoid loss by spattering. Boil the solution for two or three minutes after the iron has dissolved to remove any volatile hydrocarbons. Meanwhile prepare the reductor for use as follows: Connect the vacuum bottle with the suction pump and pour into the funnel at the top warm, dilute sulphuric acid, prepared by adding 5 cc. of concentrated sulphuric acid to 100 cc. of distilled water. See that the stopcock (C) is open far enough to allow the acid to run through slowly. Continue to pour in acid until 200 cc. have passed through, then close the stopcock !while a small quantity of liquid is still left in the funnel!. Discard the filtrate, and again pass through 100 cc. of the warm, dilute acid. Test this with the permanganate solution. A single drop should color it permanently; if it does not, repeat the washing, until assured that the zinc is not contaminated with appreciable quantities of reducing substances. Be sure that no air enters the reductor (Note 1).
Pour the iron solution while hot (but not boiling) through the reductor at a rate not exceeding 50 cc. per minute (Notes 2 and 3). Wash out the beaker with dilute sulphuric acid, and follow the iron solution without interruption with 175 cc. of the warm acid and finally with 75 cc. of distilled water, leaving the funnel partially filled. Remove the filter bottle and cool the solution quickly under the water tap (Note 4), avoiding unnecessary exposure to the oxygen of the air. Add 10 cc. of dilute sulphuric acid and titrate to a faint pink with the permanganate solution, adding it directly to the contents of the vacuum flask. Should the end-point be overstepped, the ferrous sulphate solution may be added.
From the volume of the solution required to oxidize the iron in the wire, calculate the relation to the normal of the permanganate solution. The duplicate results should be concordant within two parts in one thousand.
[Note 1: The funnel of the reductor must never be allowed to empty. If it is left partially filled with water the reductor is ready for subsequent use after a very little washing; but a preliminary test is always necessary to safeguard against error.
If more than a small drop of permanganate solution is required to color 100 cc. of the dilute acid after the reductor is well washed, an allowance must be made for the iron in the zinc. !Great care! must be used to prevent the access of air to the reductor after it has been washed out ready for use. If air enters, hydrogen peroxide forms, which reacts with the permanganate, and the results are worthless.]
[Note 2: The iron is reduced to the ferrous condition by contact with the zinc. The active agent may be considered to be !nascent! hydrogen, and it must be borne in mind that the visible bubbles are produced by molecular hydrogen, which is without appreciable effect upon ferric iron.