AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

10.1.3 Required Practical: Analysis & Purification of Water Samples

Required Practical 8: Analysis & Purification of Water Samples

Practical 8(a): Analysing and Purifying Water and making it Safe to Drink

To determine the amount of dissolved solid in samples of water

Analysis of the pH and dissolved solids of water samples can help determine the regions the water comes from


  • Water samples A, B, C and D
  • Universal indicator paper
  • Mass balance
  • Evaporating basin
  • 25cm3 graduated cylinder
  • Bunsen burner, tripod & gauze

Practical Tip:
Don’t overheat during step 4 as you run the risk of thermally decomposing some of the solids, leading to erroneous results


  1. Use the universal indicator paper to determine the pH of the water sample
  2. Accurately weigh an empty evaporating basin to two decimal places
  3. Add 25 cm3of water sample A into the evaporating basin
  4. Heat the evaporating basin on a tripod and gauze using a Bunsen burner until the solids start to form and the majority of water has evaporated
  5. Weigh the cooled evaporating basin again and calculate the mass of the solids that were dissolved in the water.

Record your results in a suitable table

Required Practical 8a Results Table, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

The results could be compared to the national water safety levels and by analysis the regions of each sample could be deducted e.g. region of high acid rain, water from a salt water supply etc.

The amount of dissolved solids in water can be determined and is a useful indicator of water quality

Exam Tip

Make sure you know the names of common laboratory equipment and can draw and label apparatus used in the required practicals.

Required Practical 8(b): To Purify a Water Sample by Distillation

To separate pure clean water from a sample containing water and other substances

A simple distillation apparatus can be set up separate pure water from a mixture of water and unwanted substances


  • 10 cm3 of water sample A
  • Bunsen burner
  • Tripod
  • Gauze
  • Heatproof mat
  • Clamp and clamp stand
  • Conical flask with delivery tube and bung
  • Boiling tube
  • Ice bath

Analysis-&-Purification-of-Water-Samples, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Diagram showing the apparatus to set-up for a simple distillation experiment

Practical Tip:
The delivery tube must sit above the filtrate level to prevent cold water being sucked back up the delivery tube after separation, which would break the hot glass


  1. Add the water sample to the conical flask and set up the apparatus for distillation as shown in the diagram
  2. Heat the water using the Bunsen burner until boiling occurs
  3. Reduce the heat so that the water boils gently for some time
  4. The distilled water will collect in the cooled test tube
  5. Collect about 2 cm depth of water in this way, then stop heating
  6. Analyse the water you have distilled by determining its boiling point

Distillate of pure clean water

The pH of the water can be tested as well as its boiling point

Simple distillation can be used to produce pure water from a sample of impure or contaminated water

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.

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