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making ionic compounds prac from Pearson Science 9 p19

Submitted by sat on 27 May 2015

Summary Answer

 This reaction is a typical example of a double displacement reaction whereby an aqueous solution of sodium sulfide reacts with an aqueous solution of copper (II) chloride to give copper (II) sulfide (black shiny crystals) and aqueous sodium chloride (a colourless solution). Sometimes, instead of a colourless filtrate, a yellow solution may be obtained, which occurs because of the decomposition of solid sodium sulfide to hydrogen sulfide.

Sodium sulfide is a yellow, yellow–pink or white solid flake with a sulfurous (rotten egg) smell which contains at least 30% water. Crystalline sodium sulfide is hydroscopic and absorbs moisture from air to form hydrogen sulfide. Discolouration of the solid occurs with time. When sodium sulfide is dissolved in water, hydrolysis occurs and the sulfide solution develops the characteristic rotten-egg odour. Dissolving an ageing sodium sulfide solid in water will result in more hydrolysis of the anion compared to a fresh sample. Instead of colourless, a yellow aqueous solution of sodium sulfide is observed. This solution has a strong sulfurous smell and the yellow colour fades with time.

When this sodium sulfide solution is made to react with copper (II) chloride solution, a black precipitate (copper (II) sulfide) in a yellow solution is formed. Filtration results in a yellow filtrate, which contains aqueous sodium chloride and sulfide/polysulfide ions in equilibrium.


Science ASSIST strongly recommends precipitating out the sulfide ions from the filtrate before performing evaporation. These ions can be removed through reaction with aqueous silver nitrate solution:

To the filtrate, add  0.1 M silver nitrate solution drop wise, until no further black precipitate is formed, filter the mixture and evaporate the filtrate to get the sodium chloride crystals.

Warning: If the filtrate containing sulfide ions is heated, the sulfide ions will be oxidized to sulfur dioxide, a very toxic and corrosive gas.

Science ASSIST also recommends:

Disposal of waste chemicals

Alternative reactions

Due to the toxic and corrosive nature of sodium sulfide, other safer chemicals can be used to illustrate “Making Ionic compounds” such as:


Agarwal, Jyotsna 2012. ‘Effect of absorbability of iron contents by precipitated barium sulphate in the commercial crude sodium sulphide’ International Journal of Science and Technology, Volume 2 No.10, October 2012, (Original source no longer exist, replaced with Internet Archive version July 2018).

‘Inorganic chemistry/Qualitative analysis/test for anions’ May 2015, Wikibooks website

‘Safety Data Sheet: sodium sulphide’, 28 May 2013 Chem-Supply website

‘Standard Operating Procedures For Handling, Storage and Disposal of Sodium Sulfide’ October 2013, Drexel University Department of Safety and Health website