Starch indicator

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Starch is often used in chemistry as an indicator for redox titrations where triiodide is present. Starch forms a very dark blue-black complex with triiodide which can be made by mixing iodine with iodide (often from potassium iodide). However, the complex is not formed if only iodine or only iodide (I-) is present. The colour of the starch complex is so deep, that it can be detected visually when the concentration of the iodine is as low as 0.00002 M at 20 °C. The colour sensitivity decreases with increasing temperature (ten times less sensitive at 50 °C), and upon the addition of organic solvents such as ethanol or propanone. During iodine titrations, concentrated iodine solutions must be reacted with some titrant, often thiosulfate, in order to remove most of the iodine before the starch is added. This is due to the insolubility of the starch-iodine complex which may prevent some of the iodine reacting with the titrant. Close to the end-point, the starch is added, and the titration process is resumed taking into account the amount of thiosulfate added before adding the starch.

To prepare starch indicator solution, add 1 gram of starch (either corn or potato) into 10 mL of distilled water, shake well, and pour into 100 mL of boiling, distilled water. Stir thoroughly and boil for a 1 minute. Leave to cool down. If the precipitate forms, decant the supernatant and use as the indicator solution. To make solution long lasting add a pinch of mercury iodide or salicylic acid, otherwise it can spoil after a few days.

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