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Lab Experiment: How do I dissolve dirt?

Purpose: To introduce the student to a real world application of concepts learned so for in Analytical Chemistry.
Apparatus: To be determined.
Introduction: In this experiment you will be given a beaker containing dirt. Dissolve .25 grams using any method/chemicals/devices possible. You are NOT allowed to use hydrofluoric acid in the dissolution of the dirt.
Lab Report: For this experiment I have to turn in a full lab report, explaining in detail my experimental procedures, results, and conclusions.

If you know how to dissolve dirt I need a fully written out procedure with apparatuses needed and a detailed description of what to do so I can perform it in the lab. I have chemicals available to me that would be in conjunction to a typical chemistry lab (I have the use of a hot plate, acids, bases etc.), but no pressure cooker.

P.S. Dissolving dirt does not include just putting it in water. This takes a lot of critical thinking!

Solution Preview

Dirt is really a very complex mixture of many things, organic matter from decaying plants and animals, various inorganics such as silica, phosphates, nitrates, metals. How you prepare the sample will largely be determined by what you intend to identify.

An exhaustive anaysis would begin by making a slurry in water and measuring pH with a pH meter. You then can extract organic matter by adding portions of chloroform, shaking and decanting. If you add, for instance 20mL of water to 250mg sample, you could extract 3x20mL chloroform in a 60mL seperatory funnel.

Combine the chloroform extracts, remove residual water by adding small portions of magnesium sulfate until last portion doesn't ...

Solution Summary

This solution includes analysis of problem and explanation of steps. 450 words.

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