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Determination of Acetic Acid in Vinegar

Vinegar is an aqueous solution of acetic acid (CH3COOH). The amount of acetic acid in a white vinegar
solution can be determined by neutralizing the acid with a base (NaOH in this case) in a laboratory procedure
called a titration. When all of the protons from the acid have been neutralized, the phenolphthalein indicator
changes color and indicates the endpoint of the titration. (Phenolphthalein is an acid-base indicator that is
colorless in acid solution and pink in basic solution.) The volume of base needed to neutralize the acid is then
determined and then used to find the molarity and the mass percent of acetic acid in the vinegar.

• To learn and practice the techniques of acid-base titration.
• To determine the molarity and the mass percent of acetic acid in commercial white vinegar.


1. Using a graduated cylinder, add 10.0 mL of vinegar to a clean 125 mL Erlenmeyer flask.
2. Add about 25 mL of distilled water and 3-4 drops of phenolphthalein indicator to the vinegar solution.
3. Fill the buret with 50 mL of 1.0 M NaOH solution. Place a waste beaker under the tip of the buret and
open the stopcock to allow some NaOH to run into the beaker. Check to see that the tip of the buret is
filled and contains no bubbles. Record the starting volume of NaOH to the nearest 0.01 mL!
4. Place the flask containing the vinegar solution under the buret on a piece of white paper. Add NaOH
and swirl the flask to ensure mixing.
5. At first the pink color produced by the NaOH contacting the phenolphthalein in the vinegar solution will
disappear quickly. As the endpoint is neared, the pink color will remain for a longer time with each
addition of NaOH. At this time, slow down the titration to drop by drop. Soon one drop of NaOH gives
a permanent faint pink color to the solution. This is the endpoint of the titration. Record the final
volume of the NaOH in the buret to the nearest 0.01 mL.
6. Pour the vinegar solution in the sink and clean the 125 mL Erlenmeyer flask with a small amount of
distilled water. Dry the flask with a paper towel.
7. Repeat the titration with a new 10.0 mL sample of vinegar (let the other lab partner do the titration this
time). Don’t forget to add the phenolphthalein indicator! Remember to record the initial and final
volumes of NaOH in the buret to the nearest 0.01 mL.
8. Clean up. The NaOH can be left in the buret for the next class.


1. Using the data for both titrations, calculate the volume (in mL) of NaOH used to neutralize both of the
vinegar samples. (You will have two values for volume of NaOH, since you did two titrations.)
2. Convert the volume of NaOH used into L.
3. Calculate the moles of NaOH used for each titration by using the volume (in L) and the molarity of the
NaOH solution (M = moles/L).
4. Record the moles of acid present in each vinegar sample (equal to moles of base used to neutralize the
5. Convert 10.0 mL of vinegar into L. Using this value, calculate the molarity (M) of the acetic acid in each
original vinegar sample. Average the two values to get your final molarity of acetic acid in vinegar.
6. Find the molar mass of acetic acid (CH3COOH). Using the number of moles of acetic acid, calculate
the mass (in g) of acetic acid in each sample.
7. Calculate the percent acetic acid in the vinegar for each sample. % acetic acid = g acetic acid / mL of
vinegar used x 100. Average your two results to get your final mass percent.
8. Calculate the % error from the actual % of acetic acid in the vinegar (actual = 5%).
9. Write your conclusion. Be sure to write the equation for the neutralization reaction. Discuss the
chemistry involved in the acid/base titration.