# The Density of Water and Of an Unknown Metal Lab Report

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Density
Reading assignment: Chang, Chemistry 10th edition, pp. 18-19.
Goals
The purpose of this experiment is to become familiar with the concept of density. We will determine the
density of water and of an unknown metal. We will also learn to use the triple-beam balance.
Equipment and Materials
10 mL graduated cylinder, 100 mL graduated cylinder, 100 mL beaker, distilled or deionized water, metal
bar, triple-beam balance.
Discussion
A commonly measured physical property of materials is density. The density of a material depends on
the atomic or molecular structure of the material and is defined as mass divided by volume:
d
mass m
=
volume V
Mass can be measured using any one of several
devices, such as the
digital analytical balance or a mechanical triple-beam
balance. In this experiment we will measure mass using
a triple-beam balance.
Triple-beam
balance
To measure the volume of a material we must consider
cylinders
its physical state.
For liquids, volume can be measured using volumetric flasks, graduated cylinders, volumetric pipettes, or
burets. In this experiment we will use graduated cylinders to measure the volume of water.
Density is an example of an intensive property, meaning that it doesn’t depend on the amount of the
material. The density of a small piece of copper is the same as the density of a large piece of copper. The
mass of an object, on the other hand, does depend on how large the object is and is an example of an
extensive property.
The density of liquid water is about 1 gmL–1 at room temperature. Among metals, densities range from
0.6 gmL–1 for lithium to 22.3 gmL–1 for osmium. Exotic solids known as aerogels possess very low
densities, as low as 0.004 gmL–1. A general trend in the periodic table is that density increases with
atomic number. An explanation for this trend is that as the atomic number increases the nucleus
possesses an increasing number of protons and neutrons, resulting in an increased mass of the atomic
nucleus. The volume of the nucleus increases more slowly with the addition of protons and neutrons,
resulting in increasing density.
Table 1 shows density values for several elements from the periodic table. All of the elements listed are
solids at room temperature, with the exception of mercury. The density of liquid water is included for the
purpose of comparison.
Department of Physical Sciences Kingsborough Community College The City University of New York Winter 2010
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Table 1. Density values for selected materials at 20°C
Element
Symbol
Density
–1
(gmL )
Atomic
number
aluminum*
Al
2.698
13
Cd
8.65
48
copper*
Cu
8.960
29
Pb
11.350
82
magnesium*
Mg
1.738
12
tin (white)*
Sn
7.28
50
zinc*
Zn
7.133
30
water (l)
H2O
0.9982
N/A
*These are the metals we will use in this experiment.
Water Immersion Method for Density Determination
The volume of a solid object can be measured by using the water displacement method. In this method
the object is placed in a liquid that is less dense than the object. The addition of the object to the liquid
raises the level of the liquid
because the two volumes are
assumes that the solid
doesn’t react with or dissolve
in the liquid.
V
V1 is the volume of the liquid. V2 is the
sum of the volume of the liquid and the
solid object. Notice that V2 is greater
than V1. This is because the volume
of the liquid and the volume of the
solid object are additive. The volume
of the solid object is:
V1
V2
Vsolid = V = V2 – V1.
Significant Figures
When the mass of an object is measured using the triple-beam balance the result should be reported to
0.002 g. The number of significant figures in the volume measurement depends on the type of graduated
cylinder used. For the 10 mL graduated cylinder the water level should be estimated to 0.05 mL. For the
100 mL graduated cylinder the volume should be estimated to 0.5 mL.
Procedure
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Safety glasses are not required for this experiment.
Students work individually on this experiment.
Part 1: The Density of Water
1. Measure the mass of an empty dry 10 milliliter (mL) graduated cylinder using the triple-beam balance.
Record the mass using the data sheet provided.
2
2. Pour some distilled or deionized water into the graduated cylinder and wipe away any water on the
outside of the cylinder. Carefully measure the volume of the water in the cylinder.
3. Re-measure the mass of the graduated cylinder.
4. From the measured mass and volume of the water, calculate the density of the water. The density of
water at 20 °C is 0.998 gmL–1. If you find the density of the water to be less than 0.96 gmL–1 or greater
than 1.04 gmL–1 check your measurements and calculation. After finding the source of error, complete
the calculation and go to Part 2 of the experiment.
Part 2: Determination of the Density of a Metal
1. Obtain a dry metal bar from the instructor. Record the unknown number for the metal in the data
sheet.
2. Measure the mass of the metal using the triple-beam balance.
3. Measure the volume of the metal bar by the displacement of water. This is done by placing 40 to
70 mL of tap water into a 100 mL graduated cylinder. The amount of water you place in the cylinder
depends on the length of the metal. For the experiment to work, the metal has to be completely immersed
in water. Carefully measure and record the volume of the water.
4. Tilt the graduated cylinder and place the metal bar into the graduated cylinder. Allow the metal bar to
slowly slide down the cylinder until it reaches the bottom. Do not allow the bar to slide fast. It might
break the glass cylinder or splash water out of the cylinder. Carefully measure and record the new
volume.
5. Repeat the volume measurements in steps 3 and 4 so that you have two sets of volume measurements
for the metal. Calculate the average volume of the metal from these two sets of measurements.
Calculations
Show all calculations on a separate sheet of paper.
Part 1
1. The density of the water is its mass divided by its volume:
d H2O =
m H2O
VH2O
Part 2
2. Calculate the volume of the metal using the measured masses of the water and the water with the
metal:
Vmetal = Vmetal+water – Vwater
3. The average volume of the metal can be determined from the two measurements of the metal’s volume:
Vaverage =
volume1+ volume 2
2
4. Calculate the density of the metal using the average volume of the two measurements. Be sure to
report your density value to the correct number of significant figures.
Department of Physical Sciences Kingsborough Community College The City University of New York Winter 2010
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d metal =
m metal
Vmetal(average)
5. We will assume that the metal you used is one of the metals listed in the Table 1. Select the metal that
has the closest value of density to the density you calculated.
6. To determine how close you were to the accepted value for the density of the metal, calculate the
percentage error. Percentage error is a measure of how close your experimental value is to the accepted
value. Use the following equation:
% error =
known  measure d
known
x 100
where the known value is the accepted value for density and is found in Table 1. The measured value is
the density you measured and calculated in this experiment. The difference between the known value and
the measured value should be positive. Using the absolute value of the difference ensures this.
Observations and Notes
Density
Date
4
Data and Report Sheet
Density
Name
Section
Date
Part 1: The Density of Water
Mass of 10 mL graduated cylinder
g
Mass of cylinder + water
g
Mass of distilled or deionized water
g
Volume of distilled or deionized water
mL
Density of distilled or deionized water
gmL–1
Part 2: The Density of an Unknown Metal
Unknown metal number
Mass of metal
g
Volume of water
mL
mL
Volume of water and metal
mL
mL
Volume of metal
mL
mL
Average volume of the metal
mL
Density of metal (mass/volume)
gmL–1
Name of metal
% error
Department of Physical Sciences Kingsborough Community College The City University of New York Winter 2010
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Calculations Sheet
Name
Section
Show all calculations on this sheet
6
Date