Measuring pH and pOH

The acidity of a solution is typically assessed experimentally by measurement of its pH. The pOH of a solution is not usually measured, as it is easily calculated from an experimentally determined pH value. The pH of a solution can be directly measured using a pH meter ([link]).

(a) A research-grade pH meter used in a laboratory can have a resolution of 0.001 pH units, an accuracy of ± 0.002 pH units, and may cost in excess of $1000. (b) A portable pH meter has lower resolution (0.01 pH units), lower accuracy (± 0.2 pH units), and a far lower price tag. (credit b: modification of work by Jacopo Werther)

The pH of a solution may also be visually estimated using colored indicators such as the solution indicator and pH strips shown below. The acid-base equilibria that enable use of these indicator dyes for pH measurements are described in a later section of this chapter.

(a) A solution containing a dye mixture, called universal indicator, takes on different colors depending upon its pH. (b) Convenient test strips, called pH paper, contain embedded indicator dyes that yield pH-dependent color changes on contact with aqueous solutions.(credit: modification of work by Sahar Atwa)