Use of Titration

By Contributing Writer; Updated April 24, 2017

Titration is the volumetric analysis of the concentration of an unknown solution (the titer) of a known reagent. A measured amount of a solution of unknown concentration is added to a known volume of a second solution until the reaction between them is just complete. Titration is also known as “volumetric analysis,” because the measurement of volume plays a key role in titration. The substance used in a reagent solution of precisely known concentration is called “titrant.” A glass tube called a burette is used to deliver the measured quantities of solution that has been consumed.

History and Etymology

The word “titration” originates from the Latin word “titulus,” which means message or title. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “titration is a method or the process of determining the concentration of a dissolved substance in terms of the smallest amount of a reagent of known concentration required to bring about a given effect in reaction with a known volume of the test solution.”

The overwhelming contribution of French chemistry led to the development of quantitative chemical analysis. For example, the burette was first prepared by a French chemist, Francois Antoine Henri Descroizilles in 1791. Primitive burettes were more of a graduated cylinder, but it was modified and adjusted by another French chemist, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, in 1824. The new version of the burette also included a side arm.

Food Processing Industry

Titration is frequently used in the food processing industry in determining the amount of a known base to be added to a batch of waste vegetable oil. It is a valid method for creating the alternative to petrochemicals, biodiesel. An alkali is added drop by drop until the sample of waste vegetable oil becomes neutralized. Simultaneously, the pH of the sample is tested for the desired reading of 8.5.

Acid Number

In chemistry, acid number (or acid value) refers to the amount of potassium hydroxide or caustic potash in mg which can chemically neutralize 1 g of a chemical substance. Acid number is used to determine the quantity of acid present in a chemical matter, for instance, in a sample of vegetable oil.

Acid-Base Titration

The free fatty acid (i.e., any of the saturated or unsaturated carboxylic acids) content in a substrate can be found out through acid-base titration with a color indicator such as phenolphthalein (a brilliant red indicator in alkalis).


Titration is a common laboratory practice in chemistry. Moreover, a chemistry student’s propensity can be judged through this test.