Iodine Clock H2O2/I-/H+ why buffer it?

  1. The RSC Classic Chemistry Demos list the method for the hydrogen peroxide iodine clock variant as being buffered at pH5.8 with ethanoic acid/sodium ethanoate. Can anyone explain why it might be useful to buffer a clock reaction in this way? It seems this is for a demo rather than a serious kinetic study, but still seems unusual.
    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Take a look at the reaction equation. The less variables, the better.
  4. OK, but H+ concentration varies - as does any reactant - as it is consumed. Just don't see why trying to restrict this will improve the outcome in any way - the clock time will be just as reliable based on a non-buffered initial acid concentration ...
    Thanks again
  5. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't think it is important for the experiment, but this is often part of some lab in which kinetics data is further analyzed. Then constant [H+] makes the description much easier.
  6. Yes - agreed. But then why not simply have excess H+, rather than a buffer, as is usually the case when keeping a reactant constant or "isolated" in kinetic studies? Seems a little curious!
  7. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Excess H+ IS a buffer (compare the plot at buffer capacity page).

    Then, excess H+ means high H+ concentration, for obvious reasons it can unnecessarily speed up the reaction, making it harder to observe (and measure the time).
  8. Thanks Borek - makes more sense now. So using a classic buffer (ie weak acid + conjugate base here) is an alternative to simply using excess H+, in order to arrive at a reasonable clock time. Very helpful buffer capacity reference - thanks again. (In this reaction, H+ is being consumed rather than formed, so technically, the conjugate base isn't needed ... and no kinetic studies are intended in the RSC method, so no real need to keep [H+] constant ... hey ho, whatever)
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