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Chemical analysis

Soil sample analysis requires that chemical compounds are first extracted from their matrix using pH and heat modulation and concentrated. Filters and filtration-related products play key roles throughout this process. Quality is essential to maintain the integrity of results.

What are you testing for? What testing method? Product
Nitrogen Kjeldahl analysis Weighing boats
Pesticide detection Soxhlet extraction Thimbles (cellulose)
Trace elements Spectrophotometry and


Syringe filters
Phosphorus Colorimetry Cellulose filter papers
pH pH testing Indicator papers
Retained solids and

clarified solution

Gravimetric analysis. Various

quantitative and qualitative

analytical techniques

Quantitative or qualitative cellulose filter papers
Kjeldahl nitrogen analysis

Measuring soil nitrogen content can help refine nitrogen fertilizer addition before planting.
Nitrogen content analysis is typically done with Kjeldahl techniques, which involve the sampling of an exact amount of soil before transfer to a digestion tube. Low nitrogen content weighing paper makes the sample transfer easy and quick without loss of material and with minimal interference with the end result. The sample may need to be filtered through a Whatman brand qualitative filter paper prior to analysis.

Soxhlet extraction for chemical detection

Prior to analysis by, for example, gas chromatography (GC), soils may be prepared using Soxhlet extraction or microwave digestion. Extraction thimbles are widely used for Soxhlet techniques. Qualitative filter papers or glass fiber filters can help clear extracts after microwave extraction. Samples may then be refiltered with a 0.45 μm filter to remove small particles and protect your GC instrument. Mini-UniPrep syringeless filter, which is an allin-one filter and autosampler vial, allows you to process samples faster than traditional syringe filters and eliminates multiple consumables.

Spectroscopy and chromatography for trace element analysis

Trace element analysis in soil generally involves determination of essential nutrients for plant growth (e. g., potassium, magnesium, calcium) and detection of potential heavy metal contamination (e.g., lead, chromium, arsenic, zinc, copper, cadmium, mercury, and nickel).
Most trace element tests are based on extracting soil and measuring the concentration of trace elements in the soil-free liquid phase using for example inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES). Extraction methods can vary between laboratories. The sample then generally needs to be filtered through a qualitative filter paper or glass fiber filter to make sure it will not clog nebulizers or interfere with injection into the analysis instrument.
If digested with aqua regia, the sample may be filtered through an ashless filter paper. If syringe filters are used as an additional sample preparation step.

Colorimetry for phosphorus analysis

Through soil phosphorus testing, the amount of phosphorus fertilizer required to achieve maximum plant growth can be determined. Soils with low or medium phosphorus content will likely show higher yields if extra phosphorus is added. However, crops are not likely to respond with a yield increase in soils with high or very high phosphorus content.
To determine the soil phosphorus content, the soil is extracted with a chemical solution and the phosphorus content in the extract is measured by colorimetry. Filtration of the extract through a qualitative filter paper is generally needed before analysis. If an automated method is used for determining phosphorus concentration, acid-resistant filter paper may be needed.

pH testing

The pH of soil is vital for how well it holds minerals. When the soil it too acidic, minerals will be leached out by rainwater before the plants have a chance to use them. Highly alkaline soils are often associated with mineral deficiencies due to the low solubility of minerals under alkaline conditions. Neutral or slightly alkaline soils are ideal for growing plants. However, some plants have very particular pH requirements.
There are many different ways of measuring soil pH. Litmus/pH paper is a quick and inexpensive method to test soil pH when a pH-meter is unavailable or when highly precise values are not necessary. When preparing your soil sample, use a weighing paper to weigh the soil before adding water. Filter papers can be used to remove unnecessary particles from the suspension.

Clarification and solids retention

Various test methods require that liquid components of a solution be separated from suspended solids prior to analysis. GE offers a wide choice of cellulose filter papers with different levels of flow rate, loading capacity, and chemical
resistance to support these applications.
Whatman quantitative filter papers are designed for gravimetric analysis and the preparation of samples for instrumental analysis. They are available in three formats: ashless, hardened low ash, and hardened ashless. Hardened low ash grade papers are acid-treated to remove trace metals, produce high wet strength, and provide chemical resistance. The tough, smooth surface of these filters makes it easy to recover precipitates, rendering them particularly suitable
for Büchner filtration. Hardened ashless grade filters combine acid-hardening with extremely low ash content, making them suitable for applications requiring the filter and retained solids to be burned.
Qualitative cellulose filters are used to determine and identify the presence of materials. Two formats are available: standard filters and wet-strengthened filters. Some standard and wet-strengthened filters are available in pre-pleated
forms which improves flow rate and increases loading capacity compared to equivalent flat filters. Whatman qualitative filter papers are manufactured from high-quality cotton linters, ensuring quality, reproducibility, and uniformity.

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