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Sulfated Ash test

Sulfated Ash test utilizes a procedure to measure the amount of residual substance not volatilized
from a sample when the sample is ignited in the presence of sulfuric acid. This test is usually used
for determining the content of inorganic impurities in an organic substance. This test is also
known as residue on ignition.
Significance and Use
The sulfated ash may be used to indicate the level of known metal-containing additives or
impurities in an organic material. When phosphorus is absent, barium, calcium, magnesium,
sodium and potassium are converted to their sulfates. Tin and zinc are converted to their oxides.
This standard may be used for research and development, specification acceptance and quality
assurance purposes.
Precautions:

Conduct the ignition in a well-ventilated hood, but protected from air currents, and at as
low a temperature as is possible to affect the complete combustion of the carbon. A
muffle furnace may be used.
Calibration of the muffle furnace may be carried out using an appropriate digital
temperature meter and a working thermocouple probe calibrated against a standard
thermocouple traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Verify the accuracy of the measuring and controlling circuitry of the muffle furnace by
checking the positions in the furnace at the control set point temperature of intended
use.

Pharmaceutical Industry:
Sulfated ash is the standard method of ashing in American and European pharmacopoeia.
The pharmaceutical industry and their suppliers therefore have to do sulfated ash test on:
-

chemicals
dry plants
celluloses

References:

U.S Pharmacopoeia
http://www.astm.org/Standards/E2403.htm
http://www.camlab.co.uk/originalimages/sitefiles/prepASH%20Application%20for%20SULPHATED%20ASHI
NG.pdf