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Precipitation reactions

Sometimes, ions in solution may react with each other to form a new substance that is insoluble . This is called a precipitate .


A precipitate is the solid that forms in a solution during a chemical reaction.

Demonstration : the reaction of ions in solution

Apparatus and materials:

4 test tubes; copper(II) chloride solution; sodium carbonate solution; sodium sulphate solution


  1. Prepare 2 test tubes with approximately 5 ml of dilute Cu(II) chloride solution in each
  2. Prepare 1 test tube with 5 ml sodium carbonate solution
  3. Prepare 1 test tube with 5 ml sodium sulphate solution
  4. Carefully pour the sodium carbonate solution into one of the test tubes containing copper(II) chloride and observe what happens
  5. Carefully pour the sodium sulphate solution into the second test tube containing copper(II) chloride and observe what happens


  1. A light blue precipitate forms when sodium carbonate reacts with copper(II) chloride
  2. No precipitate forms when sodium sulphate reacts with copper(II) chloride

It is important to understand what happened in the previous demonstration. We will look at what happens in each reaction, step by step.

  1. Reaction 1: Sodium carbonate reacts with copper(II) chloride.
    When these compounds react, a number of ions are present in solution: Cu 2+ , Cl - , Na + and CO 3 2 - . Because there are lots of ions in solution, they will collide with each other and may recombine in different ways. The product that forms may be insoluble, in which case a precipitate will form, or the product will be soluble, in which case the ions will go back into solution. Let's see how the ions in this example could have combined with each other:
    Cu 2+ + CO 3 2 - CuCO 3
    Cu 2+ + 2Cl - CuCl 2
    Na + + Cl - NaCl
    Na + + CO 3 2 - Na 2 CO 3
    You can automatically exclude the reactions where sodium carbonate and copper(II) chloride are the products because these were the initial reactants. You also know that sodium chloride (NaCl) is soluble in water, so the remaining product (copper carbonate) must be the one that is insoluble. It is also possible to look up which salts are soluble and which are insoluble. If you do this, you will find that most carbonates are insoluble, therefore the precipitate that forms in this reaction must be CuCO 3 . The reaction that has taken place between the ions in solution is as follows:
    2Na + + CO 3 2 - + Cu 2+ + 2Cl - CuCO 3 + 2Na + + 2Cl -
  2. Reaction 2: Sodium sulphate reacts with copper(II) chloride.
    The ions that are present in solution are Cu 2+ , Cl - , Na + and SO 4 2 - . The ions collide with each other and may recombine in different ways. The possible combinations of the ions are as follows:
    Cu 2+ + SO 4 2 - CuSO 4
    Cu 2+ + 2Cl - CuCl 2
    Na + + Cl - NaCl
    Na + + SO 4 2 - Na 2 SO 4
    If we look up which of these salts are soluble and which are insoluble, we see that most chlorides and most sulphates are soluble. This is why no precipitate forms in this second reaction. Even when the ions recombine, they immediately separate and go back into solution. The reaction that has taken place between the ions in solution is as follows:
    2Na + + SO 4 2 - + Cu 2+ + 2Cl - 2Na + + SO 4 2 - + Cu 2+ + 2Cl -

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
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What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
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Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
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Damian Reply
absolutely yes
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it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
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Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
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Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
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s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11245/1.3
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