The user is warned only to perform this test while on supplied air, and to ensure they are a safe distance from bystanders. Char Test The char test is useful for determining whether an unknown material is an organic or inorganic compound. Very strong oxidizing acids may destroy the indicator in the pH paper. Observe whether the sample is soluble in water. This test is not necessary on dry, solid samples.
Use the following list to help interpret the results. Flash points are estimations only and may be very inaccurate depending upon the individual performing the test. In some samples when water is added to the unknown mixtures brown result , the mixture may clarify to a different result. Test strips provide information quickly, but they do not give the incident commander or site manager the range of information necessary to make informed decisions. The paper is sensitive to cyanide concentrations as low as 5 ppm; however, it may take up to 4 hours for the blue indicating color to appear at this concentration. In some oils, PCBs may be present at a concentration that is high enough to be a health and environmental threat, but not high enough to give a visible green flame. This reaction should be confirmed by testing the unknown with HCl in a separate test tube. Cyanide Test There are several potential screening methods for cyanide. Apply a drop of the liquid unknown directly to the test paper. Smoke in the flame is often an indication of heavy molecular weight compounds, such as oils, or compounds with oxygen atoms, such as ketones or aldehydes. Apply a portion of the sample onto the looped end of a length of cool, clean copper wire. This test is not necessary on dry, solid samples. A misinterpretation of one result can lead the user down the wrong flow chart path leading to misidentification of the unknown material. If a solid material does not dissolve in water, the specific gravity is usually not important. Note that pH measured by this procedure is only meaningful when measured as an aqueous solution. Direct-reading survey instrumentation combustible gas indicator, photoionization detector, flame ionization detector, or radiation survey instruments , if available, are also valuable tools to aid in characterizing unknown materials. If the material is a solid or a liquid that did not test positive for the presence of water, dissolve the unknown material in water or mix with water by shaking in a test tube and test the resulting aqueous phase use the water from the Water Solubility and Reactivity test. Reagent such as 3 N hydrochloric acid can be ordered from a chemical supplier, or may be available for a nominal cost from a local school or university. Char Test The char test is useful for determining whether an unknown material is an organic or inorganic compound. Vapors and gases can be tested by first wetting the pH paper, then holding it above the unknown note the pH of the wet paper prior to exposing it to the unknown. A bright yellow flame will indicate the presence of an increasing number of carbon atoms in the unknown compound. A color change of the test paper from white to black, or brown indicates a positive result. Likewise, indicator tubes may specifically identify a chemical, or class of chemicals, but are only useful for gas or vapor unknowns. All of the procedures have pros and cons; however, a reliable and perhaps the quickest procedure is presented here. Wispy or stringy smoke may be an indication of aromatic compounds such as benzene, toluene, or xylenes.
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Haz-Cat Refresher Kern County Fire Department
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