How to Calculate the Normality of a Solution

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Chemists use molarity (M) and normality (N), which are often confused with one another, to describe the concentrations of solutions. Molarity is simply the amount of a substance, such as salt, contained in a liter (L) of a solution, such as saltwater. Normality, on the other hand, applies specifically to acids and bases; it is the amount of H+ ion contained in a solution. Calculating normality is a simple matter; you simply multiply an acid's molarity by the number of H+ ions each acid molecule can donate to the solution. This number is indicated by the number immediately after the "H" in the chemical formula for the acid (no written number means that it is 1). For instance, hydrochloric acid (HCL) can donate 1 H+ ion per acid molecule whereas sulfuric acid (H2SO4) can donate 2 H+ ions per acid molecule.

  • Look at the concentration of the acid you are using. You can find that information on the bottle containing the acid. As an example, imagine that you need to calculate the normality for a 0.4 M solution of sulfuric acid.

  • Look at the chemical formula of the acid you are using to find out the number directly after the "H" in it. In this example, you are using sulfuric acid, which is H2SO4. The number after the "H" is 2.

  • Calculate the normality of your acid solution by multiplying its concentration by the number after the "H" in the chemical formula. In the example:

    Normality of Sulfuric Acid Solution = Molarity of Acid x 2 = 0.4 M x 2 = 0.8 N.

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