Required Practical – Analysis and purification of water

It is important in this core practical to use apparatus and substances carefully and safely, and to observe chemical changes. Eye protection must be worn at all times.


Method – Part 1 (Analysing water samples)

  1. For each sample of water you are given, test the pH using either a pH meter or universal indicator and an appropriate colour chart. Record your observations carefully.
  2. For each sample of water, pour 50 cm3 into a clean pre-weighed evaporating basin. Heat gently over a Bunsen burner, tripod and gauze until no liquid remains. Allow to cool, then weigh the evaporating basin again and calculate the mass of solid that remains in the evaporating basin.

Analysis – Part 1 (Analysing water samples)

Water sample pHMass of solid obtained by evaporating 50 cm3 of water sample (g)
A 70.00

Which sample was sea water?

Sample B was sea water. It contained the highest mass of dissolved solids.


Which sample was obtained from a region affected by acid rain?

Sample C was acidic, so it could have been obtained from a region affected by acid rain.

Method – Part 2 (Distillation of sea water)

Set up your distillation apparatus as demonstrated by your teacher.

You may be able to use a conventional condenser like this:

Salty water is heated, and water evaporates. The water vapour cools in the condenser and drips into a beaker.As the sea water is heated the vapour condenses to produce pure water

Or you might be using apparatus like this:

Apparatus for distillationAn alternative way to set up the distillation apparatus

Heat your sea water until it boils gently.

After a period of time you should see pure water being produced.

Analysis – Part 2 (Distillation of sea water)


Why is it not safe to drink the distilled water sample?

It might be contaminated because the apparatus might not have been cleaned properly before the practical.



Why was it important to heat the same volume of water to dryness in the first part of the practical?

So the mass of the dissolved solids could be compared in a valid test.


It is essential that the end of the delivery tube in the method described by the second diagram above is above the level of the distillate. This is for safety reasons. Describe what would happen if you stopped heating the sea water and the end of the delivery tube was below the surface of the distillate.

As the delivery tube cools the distillate will be sucked up the delivery tube. When this cool water reaches the hot glass, it may cause the glass to break.

Hazards, risks and precautions

It is important to evaluate the hazards and the precautions needed to reduce the risk of harm. For example:

HazardPossible harmPossible precaution
Acidic or alkaline water samplesIrritating to eyes or skinRinse off skin if contact occurs and wear eye protection
Hot apparatusBurnsAllow hot apparatus time to cool before touching

Move on to Test