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Conor Wight

Mrs. Lyon
AP Biology
Water Lab
9/21/2015
Testing the affect salt and lactose have on the specific heat of
water.
Intro
Water has many different properties, properties that contribute
to making life on Earth possible. One such property is its high specific
heat, which helps to regulate temperature such that it is able to
sustain life present in a given area. Specific heat is the amount of heat
per unit of mass that must be applied to a substance in order for its
temperature to be raised 1 degree Celsius. While water has the highest
specific heat of any common substance, it is also a strong solvent due
to its polar ions being attracted to ions as well as polar substances,
which are able to form hydrogen bonds.
Given these two qualities, an experiment was set up in such a
way to test how the addition of solutes would affect the specific heat of
water. The solutes in question were salt (NaCl) and Lactose (C12H22O11),
who each have a specific heats of 880 (J/kgC) and 1224 (J/kgC)
respectively. In pure liquid form, the specific heat of water is 4182
((J/kgC).
Question
How does the addition of solutes, in this case salt and lactose, affect
the specific heat of water; will the resulting solution have a greater or
lesser specific heat than pure liquid water?
Hypothesis
Each solution will have higher specific heats that pure water due to the
additional mass present as a result of the solvents added to the water.
The materials use include:

1 weighing boat
1 weighing scale
1 hot plate
6 400ml beakers
6 thermometers starting at room temperature (27C)
Water from the sink present in the lab

Salt
Lactose
2 Scoopulas
Procedure
1. Set weighing boat down on weighing scale, set weight to 0g.
2. Measure out 5g of salt
3. Pour 200ml of water into a 400ml beaker
4. Put 5g of salt into this beaker.
5. Repeat for sugar
6. Fill a third and final 400ml beaker with 200ml of water
This will serve as the control
7. Set all three beakers on a hot plate.
8. Put a thermometer into each beaker
9. Record temperature before turning on the hot plate.
10.
Set hot plate to its highest level
11.
Leave the beakers on the hot plate for 11 minutes,
recording the temperature reading of each beaker at 1 minute
intervals.
12.
Repeat all steps for a second trial.
Data
1st Trial
Time
(Minutes)
Water
Temperature
(C)
Salt Solution
Temperature(
C)
Sugar Solution
Temperature(
C)

27

29

34

37

42

48

55

61

66

27

31

47

53

70

87

85

89

88

27

33

36

48

55

70

84

90

90

Time (Minutes)
Water Temperature
(C)
Salt Solution
Temperature(C)
Sugar Solution
Temperature(C)
2nd Trial

10
74

11
80

89

94

99

105

Time
1
(Minutes)
Salt Solution
36
Temperature(
C)
Sugar Solution 39
Temperature(
C)
Time (Minutes)
Salt Solution
Temperature(C)
Sugar Solution
Temperature(C)

49

59

75

88

95

94

94

100

50

69

78

79

83

90

95

96

10
100

11
101

96

103

Errors;
This experiment was subject to several errors. One such error
was the precision in which the temperature of each beaker was
recorded at the minute intervals. Two scientists were working on this
experiment, meaning that two of the beakerss temperatures were
recorded on the minute interval, while the third beakers temperature
was recorded 1-2 seconds after the interval. Another error occurred in
the set up of the second experiment; due to limited equipment, the
same hot plate was used for both trials, meaning that the hot plate
started at a much higher temperature to its temperature at the
beginning of the first trial, which was room temperature.
Conclusion:
Original hypothesis; Each solution will have higher specific heats
that pure water due to the additional mass present as a result
of the solvents added to the water. As shown in the data, this
hypothesis was not proven to be true. The specific heat of each
solution was lesser than that of the pure water, as shown in the fact
that the temperatures of the solutions were higher than that of water
at each recording interval. This indicates that the same degree of heat
applied to all three beakers caused for a greater increase in
temperature over the same period of time in the solutions when
compared to the water, meaning their respective specific heats were of
lesser value. This is further proven factual when the results are
compounded with the fact that each solution contained 205ml,
meaning that the same amount of heat caused a substance with
greater mass to be heated quicker than the 200ml of water.

The decreased specific heat comes as a result of the weakening

of hydrogen bonds. These strong bonds are what make pure waters
specific heat as high as it is; more heat is required to break them up. In
the solutions, however, weaker bonds are present, meaning less heat is
required to break them up.
Experimental error in the data is present in the recordings of
temperature in the final 4 minutes of each trial. Here, the temperature
of the solutions fluctuates; for instance, in the 6th minute of the first
trial, the salt water solution had a temperature of 87 degrees. In the 7th
minute, it was recorded that this solution had a temperature of 85
minutes. This error is likely due to either misreading of the
temperature or an accidental disturbance of the thermometer, such as
being touched by a human hand.
Future research for this experiment can be found in attempting
solutes with properties vastly different to that of salt and lactose, such
as acetic acid, to decide if the addition of substances to water
universally lowers specific heat or if certain substances causes an
increase or has a neutral affect.