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Specific gravity is relative value being as

usually determined the weight of definite
volume of substance at known temperature
compared with the weight of similar volume of
some other substance also at known
temperature; it is therefore a ratio. In the case
of liquids, the standard substance universally
adopted for the ratio is water. [1] If a substance
has a specific gravity less than one it will float
on water. If the specific gravity is more than one
it will sink. Specific gravity has no units. Specific
gravity values are the same whether calculated
from metric or English densities since the ratio
of the substance densities remains the same.
Specific gravity depends slightly on
temperature. A change in temperature has no
effect on the mass of an object since the total
amount of matter present does not change. The
objects volume, however, does change when
the temperature increases because thermal
motion moves molecules further apart.
Therefore, for all three states of matter, an
increase in temperature generally causes
specific gravity to decrease. A properly reported
specific gravity value should therefore include
the temperature at which the measurement
was made. When no temperature is given,
assume room temperature, 20 or 25C. [2]
There are different methods to
determine the specific gravity of liquid
substances. There is the pycnometer method
that uses the leach pycnometer which is
specifically used for liquids, the floatation
method that follows the Archimedes principle,
the manometric method which makes use of
the Fisher-Davidson Gravitometer, and many
more. The method used in this experiment is
the floatation method by making use of the
Mohr-Westphal Balance.
The Westphal Balance operates by
suspending a glass tube into a sample of a
solution of unknown density via a thin platinum
wire. The scale relies on Archimedes'
Principle of buoyancy and is balanced by an
array of horseshoe shaped counterweights
which come in 5 g, 0.5 g, 0.05 g, and 0.005 g
masses. These counterweights, sometimes
called riders, respectively signify the ones
place of the specific gravity of the sample
solution, the tenths place, the hundredths, and
the thousandths place. The numerical value
each rider represents is equal to the numbered
notch of the arm which it sits in when the scale
is balanced. To operate a Westphal Balance
care must be taken to first calibrate the balance
by means of the levelling screw at the bottom
of the body. With no weight on the arm of the
balance the two pointers must be aligned
before the balance can be used. Since the
Westphal Balance is measuring specific gravities
of our sample we can proceed to divide the
numerical result of all samples' specific gravities
by density of the ref (the density of water at 4
in a vacuum, density of ref = 0.999973 g/cm3) in
order to get the density of sample. It is in this
way that we ensure we are finding the exact
density of each sample we examine. This step
may be skipped, however, if the density of
water at current air conditions is assumed to be
1 g/cm3. [3]

Figure 1: Mohr-Westphal Balance: (1) balance beam, (2)
transverse notch scale, (3) stationary counterweight, (4)
balance indicator scale, (5) glass float, (6) riders, (7) vessel
with liquid, (8) thermometer, (9) double pan ([a] upper
pan, solid brass; [b] lower
pan, made of glass or aluminum, with openings)
There are also different methods in
determining the specific gravity of solid
substances. Examples are the hydrostatic
balance method, the specific gravity or the
pycnometer method that is used for samples in
powder or small granule form, the graduated
cylinder method which is based on the
displaced volume of the substance from the
standard liquid, etc. The method used in this
experiment is the pycnometer method.
A pycnometer is a small glass bottle of
known volume for determining the relative
density of liquids and solids. The mass of an
irregular solid is determined by weighing. When
the solid is placed in a pycnometer filled with a
liquid of known density, the volume of the
liquid which will overflow is equal to the volume
of the solid. The mass of the liquid which will
overflow is determined as the difference
between the sum of the mass of the
pycnometer filled with liquid plus the mass of
the solid and the mass of the pycnometer filled
with liquid after the solid has been placed
inside. The volume occupied by this mass is
determined from the known density of the
liquid. It is necessary that the solid be insoluble
in the liquid used. The density of the solid is
determined from these measurements of mass
and volume. [4]

Figure 2: Pycnometer
The objectives of this experiment are:
to determine the specific gravity of the assigned
liquid acetone by using the Mohr-Westphal
balance and to determine the specific gravity of
the assigned solid acetanilide by using the
pycnometer method.

[1] (1919), Methods of Determining Specific
Gravity of Liquids. Jnl Institute Brewing,
25: 209210. Retrieved from: