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Kevin Curran, Joe Schurer

Ms. Miller
Honors Chemistry

Identification of Unknown Substances

Before we were able to identify the unknown substances, we had to first find the
characteristics of each of the individual substances, which were used as the unknowns. The
substances were NaHCO3, NaCL, CaCO3, C12H22O11, and Cornstarch. The liquids that were used
to see various reactions of each of the substances were water, acid-base indicator, Vinegar, and
an iodine solution.
This lab uses the scientific principles of identifying the physical and chemical properties
of matter. By observing and preforming chemical reaction one can identify these properties and
use them. In this lab we will collect some info on substances and then try to identify unknown
substance by comparing their properties to the ones we have already identified.
Beginning Questions
Define Physical and Chemical properties
Physical Properties Properties that can be observed without changing the composition of
matter, and can be used to observe and describe matter.
Chemical properties Properties of matter that can only be observed by preforming a chemical
change or reaction.
How could you use chemical properties to identify unknown substances that look similar to one
another? You could try to see if their were any other physical properties that you could use to
distinguish the two substances like texture or smell. If this fails you could preform a chemical
test on each substance and compare the result to known reactions of substances.
How could you use chemical properties to identify unknown substances that look similar to
one another?
To identify an unknown substance, you could compare various ways that it interacts with
other chemicals to other known substances.
Part 1
Before beginning, write down detailed observations of each of the substances.
Create a data table to write down any observations from the reactions between the
combination of solids and liquids.
Use a well plate to mix each of the combinations of substances. Write detailed
observations in the data table
Part 2
Put the unknown substances into the well plate. Mix each of the unknown substances
with all of the liquids.
Observe the reactions and write them down in the data table. Compare these observations
to those of the known substances.
Use the comparisons to find the identities of the unknown substances.
Observations from Part 1 of the Procedure
NaHCO3 - Powdery, very fine, and white
NaCl White, salty, and slightly less fine than NaHCO3
CaCO3 - Not a pure white, very fine powder, forms clumps
C12H22O11 - Quite fine consistency, crystal/ reflects light, and forms clumps
C6H10O5 - Powder and forms loose clumps

Data Table from Part 1 of the procedure

Water Acid-Base Vinegar Iodine Solution
NaHCO3 Dissolved well Covered the Bubbled and Yellow-Brown
but not entirely solid, but did not slightly and forms
mix well. Dark dissolved clumps
NaCl Mostly Permeated the nothing Orange-slightly
Dissolved power, but did dissolved
not seem to
dissolve. Light
CaCO3 Dissolved to Did not react. Dissolved and Brown Paste
paste like Light Green bubbled
C12H22O11 Dissolved Turned green Slightly Dissolved and
almost entirely and dissolved dissolved turned brown
C6H10O5 Dissolved to a Turned Orange Dissolved and Completely
paste like color turned into a Dissolved and
substance paste like turned black

Data from Part 2 of the Procedure

Water Acid-Base Vinegar Iodine Solution
Unknown B Dissolving B but Dissolving and Slightly Brown and
slowly turned green dissolved dissolved
Unknown D Dissolved, Mostly absorbs bubbled Turned Dark
formed cloudy the liquid and Brown and
liquid turned green dissolved

Conclusion -
From the data that we collected we believed Unknown B was C12H22O11 and that
Unknown D was CaCO3. We decided on this by comparing the properties of the unknown
substances to the properties of the substances that we had already collected. For us the two most
useful were comparing the reactions of the unknowns to vinegar and Iodine. These results do
seem to make sense based on the data, however, there could be another substance mixed with
either of the unknowns that we may have missed.
There are still some errors that could have occurred in the process of completing our lab.
When we were placing the solids and liquids into the wells, we may have spilled some into the
incorrect well. Another issue could have came about when we observing the color of the
substance. Since people see color differently this led our group to disagree on occasion over the
exact color of a substance. One improvement to the lab could have been with the acid-base
indicators and pH strips. Because we finished our measurements for the first group on the fiorst
day of the lab. When we were doing the test we did not have the pH paper to compare the color
too, so we just noted the color as well as we could.