An experiment to purify contaminated water using ion exchange


The aim of the experiment is to prove that there are positively charged copper ions (cations) contaminating a solution, which will be passed through a column of ion resin beads, with the product being pure water (or at least a less contaminated sample).  Ion resin is made up of tiny beads, about 0.3-1.2mm in diameter.  It’s an insoluble substance, with a highly developed structure of pores – which can either trap of release ions.  This is known as ion exchange, a process of exchanging ions from two substances, an insoluble solid and a solution.  An example of this process is softening hard water and water purification.  When a solid is comes into contact with a solution containing ions, equilibrium is formed – meaning that the reaction can go either way, it’s a reversible reaction.  Ion exchange occurs when the reaction of two compounds (or elements) exchange their ions to form a new structure in a solution.  An ion is a charged atom/molecule, which has either lost or gained an electron, therefore giving it a positive or negative charge. (

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It is expected, that it will be possible to purify contaminated water using ion exchange

Safety assessment


  1. 4 test tubes were labelled 1-4 in a test tube rack, identifying which had what solution in it.
  2. 40cm³ of the Copper Sulphate and Lead Nitrate solution was poured into a 100cm³ beaker, and from this 2cm³ was measured and put into two test tubes.
  3. In the first test tube, 4 drops of the 2M Sodium Hydroxide was added, and the second test tube had 4 drops of the 1M Potassium Iodide.
  4. The ion exchange tube ...

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