## What are Karl Fischer Water Standards and what do the numbers mean?

Most everyone working with Karl Fischer Titration at some point ends up wanting to check their instrument for accuracy and overall operational readiness.  Karl Fischer Water Standards were made to assist operators with making these operational checks.  Sometimes however we find there is some confusion about the choice of water standards available and what the numbers mean.

# Karl Fischer Titration Water Standard Videofrom Scientificgear on Vimeo.

#### Hydranal water standards provide a few popular choices for both coulometric and volumetric Karl Fischer Titrators:

• Hydranal 0.1 (100PPM ±10% error acceptance)
• Hydranal 1.0 (1,000PPM ±3% error acceptance)
• Hydranal 10.0 (10,000PPM)

#### So what do the numbers mean?  0.1, 1.0, 10.0?

Simply put, these numbers tell us the amount of moisture (H2O) that is present in 1 gram of the water standard.  The amount of moisture (H2O) is expressed as milligrams on the packaging.  Using the Hydranal 1.0 for example we say there is 1.0 milligram of moisture (H2O) in 1 gram of the water standard.  Did you know there are 1,000 micrograms per 1.0 milligram?  Yes there is.  So instead of thinking in terms of 1 milligram per 1 gram of water standard, think in terms of 1,000 micrograms per 1 gram of water standard.  Why?

#### Karl Fischer Titrators count moisture in micrograms!

Since Karl Fischer Titrators count moisture in micrograms it's easier to think about the water standards in terms of micrograms.  Why?

#### We evaluate our water standard test in PPM

For the Hydyanal 1.0 we are looking for results within ±3% of 1,000PPM (970PPM to 1030PPM).  For the Hydranal 0.1 we are looking for results within ±10% of 100PPM (90PPM to 110PPM).

Don't forget this formula!:

#### PPM = WATER DETECTED IN MICROGRAMS/SAMPLE SIZE IN GRAMS

(For those who don't know PPM stands for Parts Per Million)

We hope this information has been helpful.

## Titration

So you need to measure the amount of sodium chloride in your food products. While we have written about this topic previously in other posts and addressed some of the approaches used to test for % sodium chloride (including the use of hand-held salt meters) we have found that it is a more common practice to use an automatic titrator to accomplish this task.  In fact we think it is the preferred instrument and method of choice.  To be sure there are pros and cons to using different methods but we still find that titration is accepted as the primary method for getting the most accurate results.

## How it's used

Although salt meters using the conductive method are faster (3 seconds vs. 2 to 3 mintues) and can be employed quickly in a production line process, titrators can also be implemented in the same testing environment with modest effort.  Additionally and regardless of how the tests were performed on the production line, titrators are generally put to work in the Quality Control/Quality Assurance Lab as a final check against periodic production line testing.

Supporting the use of titration as an accepted method includes some well known documented techniques including Mohr's and Volhard's methods making titration a recognized and trusted approach.

## What's next...

Once you have made the decsion to use titration as the testing method it's just a matter of knowing:

• ### How to setup the titrator

Luckily we have already thought about this and put together a list of 8 items your going to need.  We also created an application-note providing step-by-step instructions for you to follow to conduct a titration.

# Many companies produce the foods we eat.  Do you ever wonder why or how they test for salt during the production process?

Examples by Manufacturing Type

### Measure and monitor the salinity of bread dough to around 1%-2%

Salt which is made up of 40% sodium and 60% Chloride is an important ingredient found in food.  While salt can make food taste better, control color, and maintain food texture, it is also considered a health-risk factor (mostly due to the sodium).  Measuring and controlling the levels of salt between the extremes is a constant battle.  Producers of processed foods generally have the biggest need for identifying and controlling salt levels to address not only the taste, color, and texture of foods but also to address some of the healthier eating lifestyles more and more consumers are demanding.

# For these reasons it is paramount that salt is measured accurately.  So how do we do that?

Food comes in a variety of forms.  Solid, Liquids, pastes, creams, pieces, chunks, wafers, crackers, gooey, sauces, liquids with chunks in them...let's see what else..Anyway, you get the idea.  There are a lot of ways food can be produced and consumed!

# So what device or devices can we use to measure the salt found in these numerous forms of processed foods?

Well, there are a number of "salt meters" out there that can measure salt.  However, not all salt meters can measure the particular salt you are looking for in the same way.  In fact some "salt meters" can only measure salt under certain conditions and or in certain substances like water or sea water.  For this reason it is important to first consider what your going to be testing.  For example, If your food sample includes "food stuff particles" that you can grind into a paste form, then you can probably use a salt meter that utilizes the conductivity method.  On the other hand if you have a brine that you immerse food into and your only concerned with the liquid then perhaps a different salt meter will work.

The point is this.  The form of the food at the instant you are going to perform the test is key.  Many types of foods can be formed into pastes and diluted with water.  If the food you need to test is like this then a simple salt meter utilizing the conductivity method may be able to perform the test to your satisfaction.  I say may because % salt levels and other accuracy factors may require that you use an entirely different method of titration known as silver nitrate titration instead.

# Salt Meter vs. Titration?

A brief explanation and description of the two measurement approaches:

The Mohr method, also known as a silver nitrate titration method, utilizes the characteristics of silver nitrate that reacts with chloride ions to measure the salinity %.

Conversley, some of the more popular salt meters emloy the electric conductivity method.  Both methods measure the salinity but operate on different measurement principles.  However, by creating a conversion table between the two testing methods, correlation between the set of results can be seen.

Aside from the measurement capabilities of each approach there are pros and cons to each.

Pro's and Con's

# Titration

## More

While each method has benefits we have recently found through some informal surveying that some food processors are choosing to use both methods.  These companies are finding that it is easier to use the hand held devices and perform quick spot checks on the production line.  If any problems are identified on the production line then further verification and testing can be performed using the titration approach.  Some think using this collaborative approach is ideal.

## I'm Having Problems with my Volumetric Karl Fischer Titrator

Most operators who measure moisture using a Volumetric Karl Fischer Titrator tend to have difficulty in 3 areas.   Unlike Coulometric Karl Fischer Titrators where the equipment setup and reagents are fairly straight forward, Volumetric Karl Fischer Titrators differ greatly.  Understanding how a Volumetric Karl Fischer Titrator differs and how the equipment functions is not only paramount in terms of knowing how to operate the instrument it is critical if you want to obtain accurate and repeatable results.

# 8 out of 10 questions we receive usually fall into one of these 3 problem areas:

3. ## "SAMPLE SIZE" ..How much do I need or should I use?

Although these 3 areas at first may seem problematic and unrelated they are not.  In this 9-minute presentation we will explain why the burette size matters, how to calculate a correct sample size and explain how the volumetric titrator reagent strengths work.  Tying all three areas together will hopefully not only clear up some of the mysteries surrounding Volumetric Karl Fischer Titration but also empower operators with choices for conducting tests under varied conditions.  And, oh yes, obtain accurate and repeatable results every time.    Important note:1 ppm = 0.001 mg/g; 1 mg/g = 1000 ppm.

## Karl Fischer Titration and Water Standard Presentation

In this presentation we discuss the basic Karl Fischer Water Standards and talk about some of their uses for both Coulometric and Volumetric Karl Fischer Titration.  We also describe some of the related problems that can be identified and overcome by using Karl Fischer Water Standards.

## Karl Fisher Titration and the 20 Most Critical Questions

As a service provider of Karl Fisher testing apparatus, we see different moisture testing issues that many operators, managers, and even companies face. We have come to realize that helping operators become more knowledgeable about "the little things" can help boost confidence, improve performance and efficiency, and ensure accurate testing.

Are you new to Karl Fisher Titration and just beginning to learn about moisture testing or has it just been a while since you had to pull the Karl Fisher Titrator out to run some tests?  Regardless of your reason we know how important it is to get up to speed quickly so you can be running tests and providing moisture test results to those who need them.

To help with this we have compiled a list of the 20 most critical questions to help operators navigate through the learning curve and gain a better understanding of Karl Fisher Titration.

## Here are 6 Advantages Karl Fischer Titration offers when measuring moisture

There are multiple methods of moisture determination, including loss on drying, Karl Fischer titration, piezoelectric sorption, spectroscopy, and chilled mirrors among others. However, it is advantageous to use Karl Fischer (KF) titration in moisture analysis for the following reasons:

1. It is highly accurate and precise (Part Per Million Accuracy).
2. KF is specific to water determination. This specification is different from the other popular moisture analysis method, loss on drying (LOD), because LOD can detect the loss of any volatile substance. However, this specification is advantageous because it allows KF titration to work independent from volatile substances present in the sample
3. The process does not require large samples, which is typically truer with Loss on Drying where more sample is required to achieve higher accuracy and repeatability - which introduces another entirely different problem.
4. It does not require much time to perform an analysis since the samples are easy to prepare and the analysis itself is short in duration.
5. The method has a nearly unlimited measurement range (from 1ppm to 100%).
6. Karl Fischer titration can determine the moisture content of a sample in any state, whether it is a solid, liquid, or gas.

We hope the above advantages show some of the benefits that Karl Fischer titrators can provide.  Even today with technological advancements Karl Fisher Titration remains very popular not only because of the advantages we mention, but also because it is widely accepted as a standard for moisture detection and measurement.

## Karl Fischer Titrators; How much reagent do I need?

This is a popular question for most operators using a coulometric Karl Fischer titrator.  So let's get started.  There are two things to consider.  First, you have the chemical limitations of the reagents themselves.  Second, you have the user/operator variable. Sometimes changing the reagent has more to do with the condition of the reagent sitting in the vessel.  How full is the vessel after running numerous test? How long has the reagent been sitting in the vessel? How messy is the reagent and sample residue inside the vessel? Sometimes the user may simply want to replace the reagents because they look dirty/messy or their vessel is too full from adding samples during previous tests.

Setting aside those factors just mentioned, if we look at the reagents themselves and their capacity to measure moisture, we can come up with a general guideline as follows:

Note:  This example describes a Coulometric Karl Fischer Titrator with dual reagent setup (using Anolyte and Catholyte)

1.  In general and with regard to reagent brand, 100mL of Anolyte (AKA Anode- the reagent used in the vessel) reagent analyzes up to 1gram (1 million micro grams) of water.  20mL of Catholyte (AKA Cathode- the reagent used in the generator electrode/inner buret) reagent analyzes up to 1gram (1 million micro grams) of water.  The relationship according to the amount of water each reagent can analyze has a relationship of 100mL Anolyte to 20mL Catholyte – a 20% relationship of catholyte to anolyte.

2.  Anolyte is commonly purchased in 500ml bottles, Catholyte is commonly purchased in10x5mL ampules.

3.  A typical coulometric Karl Fischer titrator Vessel is charged with 75mL of anolyte and 1ea 5mL catholyte ampule.  Based on the 20% relationship it says that 3x5mL catholyte ampules would be used with each 75mL vessel charge of Anolyte.

4.  A 500mL bottle of Anolyte can charge the Coulometric Karl Fischer titrator vessel 6.6 times (round to 6 times to account for spillage).  3x5mL Catholyte ampules per charge of the vessel times 6 charges of the vessel = 18x5mL catholyte ampules.

Typically users do not expire the entire useful life of the reagents moisture measuring capability because of some of the factors I mentioned initially.  Another factor that I have to mention is that ambient moisture will require the coulometric Karl Fischer Titrator to maintain a dry vessel.  This process of keeping or getting the vessel in a ready to go mode can use some of the reagents useful life.  e.g. it’s not counting the moisture in your samples but that of the outside ambient moisture – for the most part this should be a small amount, but something to keep in mind and know about.

So, with all of this information, the question you may have is how long will my reagents last?  Well, that depends.  But, if you want to continue using the math we have already discussed, then, 1 charge of the vessel (75mL of anolyte with 3x5mL catholyte ampules) can measure 750,000 micro grams of water.

And, for those of you who think in Parts Per Million (PPM) you can translate into the  following:

## Calibrating Karl Fisher Titrators using water standards

“Calibrating” a Karl Fischer titrator is somewhat of a misnomer. What most operators are attempting to do is determine whether their Karl Fisher titrator is measuring moisture accurately.

A simple method is to run a water standard through the Karl Fischer Titrator like a normal direct injection test. Depending on the water standard you use, the result should equal a pre-determined level of moisture plus or minus a margin for error. These water standards are certified by the manufacturer (a certificate is included) to equal a precise level of moisture.

We use Hydranal water standards. There are two kinds we typically use for coulometric Karl Fischer Titrators.

1) 0.1 normal

2) 1.0 normal.

The 0.1 normal administered at about 1mL should result in 100ppm (Parts Per Million) of moisture when measured. The acceptable result for this standard for the Karl Fischer titrator is +/- 10%. So your Karl Fischer Titrator should produce a reading between 90ppm and 110ppm to be in the acceptable range. If it is, you know your Karl Fischer Titrator is performing correctly.

For the 1.0 normal everything is the same except the standard should result in 1,000ppm and your acceptable range is smaller at +/-3%. So your Karl Fischer Titrator should produce a reading between 970ppm and 1,030ppm.

## Karl Fisher Titration can be used to measure solid and liquid samples

We get this question a lot.  "How do you go about testing for moisture if the sample is in liquid form?..What about solid form?"

Well basically, moisture testing using the karl fischer method is a standard in the industry that measures down to the Parts per million (PPM) level.  The theoretical accuracy is down to 1 part per million level.  I say theoretical because usually any variance is due to atmospheric conditions and operator repeatability.  Specifically, and for this example, “coulometric” Karl Ficsher is best when you are using a small sample and expect and are trying to measure less than 1% (1%moisture =10,000PPM) of water (moisture/humidity) in your sample.  [Note: there is a volumetric Karl Fischer method vs. coulometric Karl Fisher method but for this discussion I am speaking from the coulometric Karl Fischer standpoint]

With this in mind,

A. If you are testing a liquid sample you only have to use the karl fischer titrator and directly inject the liquid sample with a syringe (usually around 1mL) into the vessel.

B. If you are testing a solid sample (that cannot be “broken down sufficiently with solvents like Xylene for example) you will use both the karl Fischer AND an evaporator oven.  The evaporator oven heats up the sample (usually the sample size is less than 1gram…we typically might use 1/10th of a gram..but then again we might use 3 grams -it really depends on how much moisture you expect to find). The evaporator is connected with a nitrogen gas source that is used to deliver the moisture via a heater tube on the evaporator into the titration vessel.

To see an actual demonstration of the Karl Fischer Titrator and the evaporator oven during an actual test please view the video below and watch the short 2 to 3 minute video.

To be sure there are many more things I could mention but this is a high level summary of the two approaches.

Hope this helps.