I have an issue with a way of extracting calcium from a muscle tissue (from a steak, to be exact). I would like to calculate the concentration/amount of calcium stored in a piece of the muscle, yet I did not find an adequate way of doing so.

Reading about calcium and calcium carbonate extractions I figured that maybe passing an electrical current in a solution would release the calcium, though I am not 100% sure it would work. Maybe dissolving the tissue first would work? Is it possible at all?

Any insight will be appreciated.


You can incinerate the sample in an oven. Place the sample in a flat dish made of porcelain or (in particular if the sample releases a liquid with a high salt content) a good stainless steel (e.g. 1.4571). Make sure that fresh air can reach the sample. Incinerate at least for 4 h at a temperature of 400 °C. (If the sample is large or contains large amounts of fat, you may need to heat slowly over a longer period.) If the resulting ash is still black, continue to heat at a temperature of 700 °C until you obtain a white ash.

In order to estimate the required sample size, you may expect that 100 g of fresh beef contains about 75.1 g water and yields 1.23 g ash that contains about 3.5 mg calcium. [Source: German Messanleitungen für die Überwachung radioaktiver Stoffe in der Umwelt und externer Strahlung]

Let the ash cool down and wet it with water. Dissolve the calcium salts with concentrated hydrochloric acid. You have to be careful since the ash usually contains significant amounts of carbonate salts, which will fizz and foam when you add the acid.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is easy part of the problem. How he's going to deposit or titrate the microamounts of calcium in this dirty solution? $\endgroup$ – sa7 Nov 8 '16 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @sa7 the solution is not all that dirty and yes, there are special pigments selectively binding to Ca2+ and allowing for complexonometric titration. The method, of course, needs to be found in special literature, ideally one that contains sample preparation procedure for living tissue in the first place. $\endgroup$ – permeakra Nov 8 '16 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ btw, dissolution of remains may prove difficult because calcium gives insoluble salts with phosphate present in the living tissue.\ $\endgroup$ – permeakra Nov 8 '16 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Given the small amount of calcium, complexometry may not be the ideal technique to use. You're probably better off with atomic emission spectrophotometry. If you're rich or very very lucky I'd go for ICP-MS as the plasma should get rid of any organic remains that may interfere. $\endgroup$ – Variax Nov 8 '16 at 15:01

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