(c) doc bDoc Brown's Chemistry KS4 science GCSE/IGCSE/O Level Chemistry Revision Notes(c) doc b

5. Water of crystallisation in salt crystals

The explanation and calculation of water of crystallisation

Extra Aqueous Chemistry Index: 1. Water cycle, treatment, pollution

  2. Colloids - sols, foam and emulsions

3. Hard and soft water - causes and treatment 

4. Gas and salt solubility in water and solubility curves

5. Calculation of water of crystallisation (this page)


5. Water of crystallisation calculations

  • Solubility graphs and data are covered in section 4.

  • How to calculate the theoretical % of water in a hydrated salt

    • eg magnesium sulphate MgSO4.7H2O salt crystals

    • Relative atomic masses: Mg = 24, S = 32, O = 16 and H = 1

    • relative formula mass = 24 + 32 + (4 x 16) + [7 x (1 + 1 + 16)] = 246

    • 7 x 18 = 126 is the mass of water

    • so % water = 126 x 100 / 246 = 51.2%

  • Determination and calculation of salt formula containing 'water of crystallisation'.

    • Some salts, when crystallised from aqueous solution, incorporate water molecules into the structure. This is known as 'water of crystallisation', and the 'hydrated' form of the compound.

    • e.g. magnesium sulphate MgSO4.7H2O. The formula can be determined by a simple experiment (see the copper sulphate example below).

    • A known mass of the hydrated salt is gently heated in a crucible until no further water is driven off and the weight remains constant despite further heating. The mass of the anhydrous salt left is measured. The original mass of hydrated salt and the mass of the anhydrous salt residue can be worked out from the various weighings.

    • The % water of crystallisation and the formula of the salt are calculated as follows:

      • Suppose 6.25g of blue hydrated copper(II) sulphate, CuSO4.xH2O, (x unknown) was gently heated in a crucible until the mass remaining was 4.00g. This is the white anhydrous copper(II) sulphate.

      • The mass of anhydrous salt = 4.00g, mass of water (of crystallisation) driven off = 6.25-4.00 = 2.25g

      • The % water of crystallisation in the crystals  is 2.25 x 100 / 6.25 = 36%

      • [ Ar's Cu=64, S=32, O=16, H=1 ]

      • The mass ratio of CuSO4 : H2O is 4.00 : 2.25

      • To convert from mass ratio to mole ratio, you divide by the molecular mass of each 'species'

      • CuSO4 = 64 + 32 + (4x18) = 160 and H2O = 1+1+16 = 18

      • The mole ratio of CuSO4 : H2O is 4.00/160 : 2.25/18

      • which is 0.025 : 0.125 or 1 : 5, so the formula of the hydrated salt is CuSO4.5H2O

  • All concentration calculations are covered on the on-line CLICK for GCSE Chemical Calculations calculations page, especially sections 7. on molarity, 11. and 12. on molarity and acid-base (alkali) titrations, section 14.3 on dilutions.

  • GCE A level advanced notes on the structure of hydrated salts


Extra Aqueous Chemistry Index: 1. Water cycle, treatment, pollution  *  2. Colloids - sols, foam and emulsions  *  3. Hard and soft water - causes and treatment  *  4. Gas and salt solubility in water and solubility curves  *  5. Calculation of water of crystallisation


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