Which Substance When Dissolved in Water will Conduct an Electrical Current? (page 2)

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Author: Michael Calhoun

Research Questions

  • What is an electrolyte?
  • What is conductivity?
  • Based on the results of your test which substance(s) are good electrolytes?
  • Look at the list of ingredients listed on the mineral water bottle label.  Which ones do you think contribute to the conductivity? 
  • Look at the list of ingredients listed on carbonated soda bottle label.  Which ones do you think contribute to the conductivity? 
  • The liquid chemical paste found inside of commercial flashlight batteries are electrolytes, of the materials tested for conductivity which substances could possibly used in a battery?  

Experimental Procedure

  1. Assemble the distilled water, mineral water, collected rain water, carbonated soda, and household vinegar.
  2. Prepare a sugar and salt solution by dissolving the two substances in distilled water.
  3. Fill plastic cups half full of each of liquids to be tested. 
  4. Straightened two paper clips and using tape fasten the clips to opposite sides of the first cup to be tested.
  5. Do not place the alligator clips directly into the solution to be tested. This will result in the eventual corrosion of the clips. Instead, clamp the alligator clips to the paper clips then place them in the solution as shown to the left. 
  6. Depending of the conductivity device being used record whether or not the LED glows (if the Conductivity Circuit Board Indicator®), and whether the glow is bright, moderately bright or dim in the table.  Rinse, the paper clips and cup with distilled water between tests.
  7. If a small running stream is nearby test a sample of its water for conductivity. If the water does display conductivity what substances might be dissolved in the stream and where might they have come from?

Place a in the table that corresponds to the light produced by the LED. Based on the brightness of the LED classify the liquids as “strong,” “moderate,” “weak,” or “not an electrolyte”


             LED Light Intensity & Conductivity Classification

Name of Liquid
Moderately Bright
 No Light
 Electrolyte Type
Distilled water
Tap water
Mineral water
Rain water
Table salt solution
Table sugar solution
Carbonated soda
Household vinegar

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