Chemical analysis studies the chemical composition and structure of substances. Chemical analysis can help you identify what a particular product is made out of, and also help you to understand the quality of the material.
There are many different types of chemical analysis, and different labs may specialize in different types of analysis. The type of chemical analysis used is often dependant on the substance presented to the lab.
For example, if an unidentified rock was brought in for identification, chromatography would not be an appropriate chemical analysis. Chromatography is a method of chemical analysis by which the substance is separated, typically whilst in gas or liquid form, and then passed across a second substance, typically another liquid or a solid.
You may remember testing litmus papers at school in chemistry class? This is an example of chromatography.
X-Ray Florescence determines the elements in a material’s composition, offering a chemical analysis of rocks, minerals, sediments, and fluids. In fact, it can be used to test any type of solid material. It has a wide application and is generally a non-destructive method of testing substances. X-ray fluorescence can also assist in quality control for a variety of different metals.
It can also provide a trace level analysis of any contaminants which could be found in solids. This can be particularly useful in the production line. X-ray fluorescence is often used in the production of cement.
Positive Material Identification
There are other types of chemical analysis, such as positive material identification. This is also a non-destructive way of discovering the chemical composition of solids. However, this type of analysis has the added benefit of being low cost to the lab and the business, as well as highly portable. This means the lab can be brought to you wherever you are.
If it’s trace amounts you need to identify, then inductively coupled plasma is a chemical analysis which can detect just about anything in your provided sample, no matter how small or large the concentration. The drawback to this is that requires samples to be in a liquid form, therefore it is a destructive method of testing and may not be suitable for all samples. Think of diamonds. If you have a precious material, this is not the method of chemical analysis for you.
Another method of chemical analysis that may be useful is atomic absorption. Atomic absorption gives the lab a breakdown of all the individual elements contained within the sample provided. Not only can atomic absorption identify what the elements are, but it can also identify how much of each element is present.
This too is a destructive method of chemical analysis as the sample given to the lab will need to be vaporized and then exposed to light in order to analyze the components of the sample.
Chemical analysis is a fascinating subject, and this is by no means all the available methods. However, if you’re considering chemical analysis to assist you with personal interests, for example, geology, or business concerns, then this is an excellent place to start.