An Investigation into the Identification, Properties, and Synthesis of an Unknown Ionic Compound

An Investigation into the Identification, Properties, and Synthesis of an Unknown Ionic Compound

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This paper describes the methods used in the identification, investigation of properties, and synthesis of an unknown compound. The compound was identified as calcium nitrate by a variety of tests. When the compound was received, it was already known to be one of twelve possible ionic compounds. The flame test identified the presence of the calcium anion in the compound. The compound tested positive for the nitrate cation using the iron sulfate test. At this point it was hypothesized that the compound was calcium nitrate. Reactivity tests and quantitative analysis comparing the unknown compound with calcium nitrate supported this hypothesis. Synthesis reactions were then carried out and analyzed.

The primary goal of this laboratory project was to identify an unknown compound and determine its chemical and physical properties. First the appearance, odor, solubility, and conductivity of the compound were observed and measured so that they could be compared to those of known compounds. Then the cation present in the compound was identified using the flame test. The identity of the anion present in the compound was deduced through a series of chemical tests (Cooper, 2009).
At this point the identity of the unknown compound was hypothesized to be calcium nitrate. In order to test this hypothesis, both the unknown compound and known compound were reacted with five different compounds and the results of those reactions were compared. It was important to compare the known and unknown compounds quantitatively as well to ensure that they were indeed the same compound. This was accomplished by reacting them both with a third compound which would produce an insoluble salt that could be filte...

... middle of paper ...

... for various anions. Reactivity reactions and quantitative analysis comparing the unknown compound and calcium nitrate verified this hypothesis. Calcium nitrate was most safely and effectively synthesized by combining solutions of calcium chloride and lead nitrate. The MSDS data showed that the compound is a strong oxidizer but is not very toxic. Besides following standard laboratory safety measures, care should also be taken to ensure the compound is not exposed to heat, shock, or incompatible materials as listed on the MSDS that may cause fire or explosion.

1. Tro, N. Chemistry: A Molecular Approach, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2009.

2. Cooper, M. M., Cooperative Chemistry Laboratory Manual, McGraw-Hill: New York, NY, 2009, p. 60.

3. Author unknown, Calcium Nitrate MSDS, (
01 Mar 2009.

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