SAT Subject Test Chemistry




Acids, Bases, and Salts


Some indicators can be used to determine pH because of their color changes somewhere along this pH scale. Some common indicators and their respective color changes are given below.


Notice that each indicator has its own range of color change.

Here is an example of how to read this chart: At pH values below 4.5, litmus is red; above 8.3, it is blue. Between these values, it is a mixture of the two colors.

In choosing an indicator for a titration, we need to consider if the solution formed when the end point is reached has a pH of 7. Depending on the type of acid and base used, the resulting hydrolysis of the salt formed may cause it to be slightly acidic, slightly basic, or neutral. If the titration is of a strong acid and a strong base, the end point will be at pH 7 and practically any indicator can be used. This is because the addition of 1 drop of either reagent will change the pH at the end point by about 6 units. For titrations of strong acids and weak bases, we need an indicator, such as methyl orange, that changes color between 3.1 and 4.4 in the acid region. In the titration of a weak acid and a strong base, we should use an indicator that changes in the basic range. Phenolphthalein is a suitable choice for this type of titration because it changes color in the pH 8.3 to 10.0 range.