Wet Chemistry
Play • 26 min

In this podcast, Patricia Atkins is joined with Spex Chemist Brij Tonk. Patricia and Brij touch on how Spex has grown over the years and the basics behind wet chemistry.

Analytical Chemistry is the study of chemical composition, structure and behavior of matter by separating, identifying (qualitative analysis) and quantifying (quantitative analysis) matter using instruments, chemical and physical methods.  

Analytical chemistry consists of classical methods (i.e. wet chemical methods) and instrumental methods (i.e. spectrometry, chromatography etc.). Wet chemistry or classical analysis are forms of analytical chemistry that use proven historical (classical) methods to determine the identity, amount or form of an analyte or element using wet techniques. Wet chemistry is sometimes called bench chemistry since many methods or assays occur at the laboratory bench and use laboratory glassware or plastic-ware.  

In classical methods, identification can be based on differences in physical properties (i.e. color, melting point, boiling point etc.). Instrumental methods rely on the calculation of an analyte against a standard of a chemical or physical parameter (i.e. elemental spectra, uv absorption, mass determination etc.).

Over the past few decades, many classical analyses have incorporated an automated or instrumental component (pH meters, automatic titrators, density meters etc.)  that blur the divide between classical methods and instrumental analysis. Many simple instruments are still considered to be part of classical analysis.

Wet chemistry methods are grouped into qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative methods determine the identity or presence of compounds, functional groups or elements using changes in a physical or chemical parameter which cannot be measured. These changes include color, smell, physical state or appearance.  Examples of qualitative wet chemistry include flame tests and other chemical tests such as:  Hoffman’s test etc. Quantitative methods determine the amount or concentration of a target by calculating the physical or chemical changes observed in qualitative methods.  These methods often use simple probes such as pH meters or measured titration to calculate a value.

Hosted by Patricia Atkins, Senior Applications Scientist from Spex

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