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Wet chemistry uses laboratory glassware, such as beakers and flasks, without quantitative chemical analysis using instrumentation. Many high school and college laboratories teach students basic wet chemistry methods.
Before the age of theoretical and computational chemistry, it was the main form of scientific discovery in the chemical field. So, some people call wet chemistry classic chemistry or classical chemistry. Today's society and quality control requirements need a high volume of wet chemistry. So, many wet chemistry methods have been automated and computerized for faster analysis.
Wet chemistry techniques can be used for qualitative chemical measurements, such as changes in color (colorimetry), but often involves more quantitative chemical measurements, using methods such as gravimetry and titrimetry. Some uses for wet chemistry include tests for:
- pH (acidity, alkalinity)
- conductivity (Specific Conductance)
- cloud point (nonionic surfactants)
- solids or dissolved solids
- specific gravity
- moisture (Karl Fischer titration)
Wet chemistry is also used in environmental chemistry settings and is used for to test:
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
- Chemical Oxygen Demand
- coating identification
- Ammonia Nitrogen
- dissolved Oxygen
- Sulfate, Sulfide
- Elizabeth K. Wilson. Phoenix Tastes Water Ice On Mars. C&EN. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i31/8631news6.html.