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Chemistry LibreTexts

Appendix 01: Normality

Normality expresses concentration in terms of the equivalents of one chemical species reacting stoichiometrically with another chemical species. Note that this definition makes an equivalent, and thus normality, a function of the chemical reaction. Although a solution of H2SO4 has a single molarity, its normality depends on its reaction.

We define the number of equivalents, n, using a reaction unit, which is the part of a chemical species participating in the chemical reaction. In a precipitation reaction, for example, the reaction unit is the charge of the cation or anion participating in the reaction; thus, for the reaction

\[ \ce{Pb}^{2+}(aq) + \ce{2 I}^- (aq) \rightleftharpoons \ce{PbI}_2(s) \]

n = 2 for Pb2+(aq) and n = 1 for 2 I-(aq). In an acid-base reaction, the reaction unit is the number of H+ ions that an acid donates or that a base accepts. For the reaction between sulfuric acid and ammonia

\[\ce{H_2SO_4}(aq) + \ce{2NH_3}(aq) \rightleftharpoons \ce{2NH_4^+}(aq) + \ce{SO}_4^{2-}(aq)\]

n = 2 for H2SO4(aq) because sulfuric acid donates two protons, and n = 1 for NH3(aq) because each ammonia accepts one proton. For a complexation reaction, the reaction unit is the number of electron pairs that the metal accepts or that the ligand donates. In the reaction between Ag+ and NH3

\[\ce{Ag^+}(aq) + \ce{2NH_3}(aq) \rightleftharpoons \ce{Ag(NH_3)2+}(aq) \]

n = 2 for Ag+(aq) because the silver ion accepts two pairs of electrons, and n = 1 for NH3 because each ammonia has one pair of electrons to donate. Finally, in an oxidation-reduction reaction the reaction unit is the number of electrons released by the reducing agent or accepted by the oxidizing agent; thus, for the reaction

\[\ce{2Fe}^{3+}(aq) + \ce{Sn}^{2+}(aq) \rightleftharpoons \ce{Sn}^{4+}(aq) + \ce{2Fe}^{2+}(aq)\]

\(n = 1\) for \(\ce{Fe^3+}(aq)\) and \(n = 2\) for \(\ce{Sn^2+}(aq)\). Clearly, determining the number of equivalents for a chemical species requires an understanding of how it reacts.

Normality is the number of equivalent weights, \(EW\), per unit volume. An equivalent weight is the ratio of a chemical species' formula weight, FW, to the number of its equivalents, \(n\).

\[EW = \dfrac{FW}{n}\]

The following simple relationship exists between normality, N, and molarity, M.

\[N = n \times M\]