The processes of volumetric analysis are, in general, simpler than those of gravimetric analysis and accordingly serve best as an introduction to the practice of quantitative analysis. For their execution there are required, first, an accurate balance with which to weigh the material for analysis; second, graduated instruments in which to measure the volume of the solutions employed; third, standard solutions, that is, solutions the value of which is accurately known; and fourth, indicators, which will furnish accurate evidence of the point at which the desired reaction is completed. The nature of the indicators employed will be explained in connection with the different analyses.
The process whereby a !standard solution! is brought into reaction is called !titration!, and the point at which the reaction is exactly completed is called the !end-point!. The !indicator! should show the !end-point! of the !titration!. The volume of the standard solution used then furnishes the measure of the substance to be determined as truly as if that substance had been separated and weighed.
The processes of volumetric analysis are easily classified, according to their character, into:
I. Neutralization methods; such, for example, as those of acidimetry and alkalimetry.
II. Oxidation processes; as exemplified in the determination of ferrous iron by its oxidation with potassium bichromate.
III. Precipitation methods; of which the titration for silver with potassium thiocyanate solution is an illustration.
From a somewhat different standpoint the methods in each case may be subdivided into (a) direct methods, in which the substance to be measured is directly determined by titration to an end-point with a standard solution; and (b) indirect methods, in which the substance itself is not measured, but a quantity of reagent is added which is known to be an excess with respect to a specific reaction, and the unused excess determined by titration. Examples of the latter class will be pointed out as they occur in the procedures.
THE ANALYTICAL BALANCE
For a complete discussion of the physical principles underlying the construction and use of balances, and the various methods of weighing, the student is referred to larger manuals of Quantitative Analysis, such as those of Fresenius, or Treadwell-Hall, and particularly to the admirable discussion of this topic in Morse’s !Exercises in Quantitative Chemistry!.