Why does it work?
Science my friend, science. But seriously. First read this and watch the video. The actual Nicotine test is built on what is called an Acid-Base Titration. Albeit, Acid-Base Titration kits out there typically contain more savvy gear than what is included in our test kit, but our kits do the job and are significantly cheaper. Yes, we did cut some corners but hey, would you have rather spent more money to ultimately get the same or similar results?
This video can be found on YouTube. We are not involved with this video. We simply embedded it for your viewing pleasure.
What is an Acid-Base Titration
A titration test is a controlled addition of one substance into another substance. In an acid-base titration, the lab expert (or potentially you in this case) will add a base of known concentration to an acid of unknown concentration. The goal of the titration is usually to use the substance of known concentration to determine the concentration of the other substance.
The titration is performed by slowly dripping the basic solution into a flask/beaker containing a measured amount of the acidic solution and several drops of a pH indicator. The lab expert will most often use a pH indicator that will change color when the endpoint of the titration is reached. In an acid-base titration the lab expert is trying to determine the equivalence point of the reaction, which is the point when the amount of base added was exactly the correct amount to have one base completely react with the other base of the acid.
This will all sound way too familiar if you have reviewed our “How it Works” page
Okay but why does this neat little experiment work?
We’ve mentioned before that we are not chemist’s or experts in the field of chemistry. We think its uber cool how it works, but are not the most articulate at explaining the technical details. Here it is in a nutshell, but with caveats.
We went over the Acid-Base Titration and with this in mind…. With the Nicotine Test Kit, the acidic solution is added to an unknown concentration of solution containing Nicotine (unknown concentration being the Nicotine strength, not the actual amount of eLiquid). This process is to determine the concentration of the unknown Nicotine content by neutralizing the Nicotine solution with the acidic solution. The term neutralizing, in these contexts, is when the solution turns from an Alkaline base to an Acidic base.
But how is that done?
The pH Indicator is paramount to help in determining when the two solutions (the acidic acid being added and the eLiquid solution that was the base) are neutralized from alkaline to acidic. The pH Indicator will (by changing colors) determine the pH of the end solution. When the nicotine based solution turns from blue in color to yellow in color, it means that A) the pH of the solution went from an alkaline base to an acidic base and B) the actual Nicotine strength (or concentration) is measurable based on the amount of acidic solution used. So we went from adding a known concentration of acidic solution to an unknown amount of solution (being the Nicotine concentration in the eLiquid solution) and came out with a number that can now be measured (because the solution is now yellow or acidic).
The Neutralization process basically helped us identify the unknown (or Nicotine strength) portion of the test by knowing how much of the acidic solution to use in order to turn the alkaline solution into an acidic solution. Because we can measure the concentration of the acidic solution, we can now, by process of elimination, find out the Nicotine strength.
The coolest thing about this experiment is that it doesn’t just apply to testing Nicotine. You can test so many bases with the same principles in mind.
And now the caveat.
For anyone reading this (that has a better understanding of the process) that is saying to themselves. “These guys are morons.” Please… please… help us out by contacting us and better defining the process of why this test works in a more elegant and precise fashion. We would like to apologize to all the chemists in the world reading this page. We know you are shaking your heads at us. Help us out if you have time. 🙂