I'm in chemistry class and we have an assignment and they gave us a video and I took down the data they gave us. They fist measured out 10mL of vinegar for each trial and used different amounts of baking soda in all 8 trials. They put the baking soda in a beaker then poured the vinegar into the beaker and capped it with a one hole stopper and a syringe in the hole. It was about a 1-1.5 second delay between poring the vinegar and capping it. I don't understand why the amount of CO2 produced wouldn't increase at the beginning then flat-line when the vinegar becomes the limiting reactant. I posted a graph of the data we received. All trials had the same amount of vinegar. enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Well, you know on what it depends if any gas will evolve is you add some acid? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ Logan. I agree with your surprise. Your results are difficult to understand $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Not really, if there's too little acid, then pH won't be low enough for any gas evolution. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Maurice There shouldn't be any space after @ for pinging, it wasn't needed this time though chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3889/… $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron. First : What do you mean by "pinging"? Second, there is never "too little acid". Logan states that they always use the same amount of acid. $\endgroup$
    – Maurice
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


This graph is a very good example of experimental errors which may give rise to a pseudo-phenomenon i.e., an observation which apparently looks like a scientific phenomenon but it is an artifact of the experimental design.

First of all work out the moles of acetic acid (5% acetic acid) and moles of NaHCO3. As you can see vinegar has become a limiting agent. And it should have become a flat curve only if your system was a closed system.

So where is the culprit in the experimental design?

As you stated "It was about a 1-1.5 second delay between poring the vinegar and capping it."

By the time, someone puts a syringe, a large volume of gas has already escaped when acetic acid was poured on a heap of sodium bicarbonate. How big is the heap of 3 g NaHCO3!

There is a nice trick to avoid these problems. You put the sodium bicarbonate in an open plastic pouch so that acid does not immediately encounter the salt. You can stopper and then shake to mix (quite well).

So your hypothesis is right for a flat curve, sadly there is an experimental design issue.


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