What is Wet Chemistry?
Wet chemistry is a form of analytical chemistry and refers to a wide range of chemical analyses that are conducted while chemicals are in the liquid phase. Like other types of analytical chemistry techniques, wet chemistry is primarily concerned with the composition and structure of matter. Because many wet chemistry methods are performed at lab benches, wet chemistry is also referred to as “bench chemistry.”
Wet chemistry analysis may be conducted to measure a wide range of qualities, including conductivity, density, pH, specific gravity, and viscosity, among others. Wet chemistry testing can provide valuable insight into product or material composition and quality, as well as research and development. Wet chemistry is also a critical part of many industry standard test methods, including ASTM specifications.
There are two broad categories of wet chemistry testing: classical wet chemistry and instrumental wet chemistry.
Classical Wet Chemistry
Classical wet chemistry is excellent for seeking qualitative information because the entire process is visible to the human eye. Technicians can observe noteworthy events, such as color changes, textural changes, or the appearance of a cloudy ring or other reaction, and record when these events occur. Classical wet chemistry is also suitable for measuring, mixing, and weighing.
Instrumental Wet Chemistry
Instrumental wet chemistry simply refers to wet chemistry techniques that rely on analytical instruments rather than manual methods. Analytical instruments may replace manual methods for the sake of efficiency or precision. Instrumental wet chemistry is often preferred for applications where high levels of precision are required.
Wet Chemistry Techniques
The expert technicians at ACE Laboratories are well versed in both classical and instrumental wet chemistry methods and techniques and can help you achieve a more thorough understanding of your material. Our state-of-the-art labs are fully equipped for a range of wet chemistry techniques, including:
During chemical testing, reagents are used to indicate the presence of a specific chemical within a sample solution. A technician can observe any unique reactions between the solution and the reagent and use that information to determine which chemicals are present.
Soxhlet extraction is typically employed when a compound has limited solubility in a solvent. This test method uses a small amount of solvent to dissolve a large amount of material over the course of hours—or even days. At the end of the specified test period, the solvent is removed using a rotary evaporator, producing the extracted compound.
Gravimetric analysis testing is used to measure the weight or concentration of a solid within a liquid. Solids may form in liquids from a precipitate. In these cases, a reagent is introduced to stop the formation. The precipitate is then dried and weighed so a technician can analyze the chemicals in the liquid. Solids may also be the product of dissolution. In these cases, the liquid is evaporated, and the remaining solids are weighed.
Volumetric Analysis or Titration
Volumetric analysis uses volume measurements to determine the quantity of a chemical. A solution, for which the substance and concentration is unknown, is combined with a reagent of a known volume and concentration. The reaction between the two substances may reveal the quantity of the unknown substance. If no visible change occurs, an indicator, which changes color based on the pH of the solution, may be introduced. Precise measurements are taken to determine the endpoint, or the exact point where the color change occurs.
Wet Chemistry Applications
Wet chemistry is an incredibly valuable tool for determining the composition of a material in liquid form, and many industries rely on wet chemistry methods for quantitative and qualitative chemical measurements.
One example is pharmaceutical and drug development. Introducing a reagent to a drug product can trigger a color change, so scientists can detect the presence of certain compounds. This is vital for differentiating between opioids or conducting quality control testing on a drug product. Depending on the situation, wet lab chemists may also use a colorimeter to take highly precise measurements of even the most subtle color changes.
Wet chemistry is also vital for safety and quality assurance purposes in the food and beverage industry. A variety of wet chemistry methods can be used to measure quantities of water, fatty acids, and other types of moisture in a food product. Understanding moisture content is often important for accurate labeling, long-term product quality, and shelf life.
Environmental chemists often rely on wet chemistry techniques to understand the status of an environment under study. A scientist may use wet chemistry methods to analyze a sample of groundwater, a body of water, or even soil.
In the rubber and polymer industries, wet chemistry is often used for elemental analysis. The purpose of elemental analysis is usually to identify elements such as chloride, nitrogen, and phosphate in a liquid material.
Other Industrial Chemistry Applications
Wet chemistry is considered a form of industrial chemistry. Industrial chemistry transforms matter into materials that humans use by way of chemical processes. One example might be turning rubber into tubing, tires, or another product.
Aside from wet chemistry, other applications of industrial chemistry include the testing of inks, coatings and films, pharmaceuticals, health, cosmetics, household care, and electronics.
Since industrial chemistry produces outcomes often directly for human use, it is important for the safety of the end user that the materials testing process is thorough, trustworthy, and repeatable.
Wet Chemistry with ACE Labs
The wet chemistry lab at ACE Laboratories is staffed by a team of expert chemists and technicians with years of hands-on experience with a wide variety of wet chemistry techniques and methods. Thanks to our unwavering dedication to quality and precision, our laboratories are ISO/IEC 17025 accredited. We are proud to offer the fastest turnaround times in the industry, so you can maintain momentum on your project.
Talk to a member of our team about our wet chemistry capabilities >