Primary standard

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A primary standard in metrology is a standard that is sufficiently accurate such that it is not calibrated by or subordinate to other standards. Primary standards are defined via other quantities like length, mass and time. Primary standards are used to calibrate other standards referred to as working standards.[1][2] See Hierarchy of Standards.

In chemistry[edit]

Standards are used in analytical chemistry. Here, a primary standard is typically a reagent which can be weighed easily, and which is so pure that its weight is truly representative of the number of moles of substance contained. Features of a primary standard include:

  1. High purity
  2. Stability (low reactivity)
  3. Low hygroscopicity (to minimize weight changes due to humidity)
  4. High equivalent weight (to minimize weighing errors)[3]
  5. Non-toxicity
  6. Ready and cheap availability

(The last two are not as essential as the first four.)

Some examples of primary standards for titration of solutions, based on their high purity, are provided:[4]

Such standards are often used to make standard solutions. These primary standards are used in titration and are essential for determining unknown concentrations[1] or preparing working standards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Skoog, Douglas A., Donald M. West and F. James Holler. "Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry 8th ed." Harcourt Brace College Publishers. 1995 ISBN 0-03-035523-0
  2. ^ Holt Science and Technology: Physical Science. Ed. Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Holt. Holt McDougal (July 2000). ISBN 978-0-03-051957-4.
  3. ^ "Primary standards – Criteria, Properties and Examples –". 13 January 2014.
  4. ^ European Pharmacopoeia, chapter 4.2.1

External links[edit]