1. It has been shown in this paper that while non-ionized gelatin may exist in gelatin solutions on both sides of the isoelectric point (which lies for gelatin at a hydrogen ion concentration of CH = 2.10–5 or pH = 4.7), gelatin, when it ionizes, can only exist as an anion on the less acid side of its isoelectric point (pH > 4.7), as a cation only on the more acid side of its isoelectric point (pH < 4.7). At the isoelectric point gelatin can dissociate practically neither as anion nor as cation.
2. When gelatin has been transformed into sodium gelatinate by treating it for some time with M/32 NaOH, and when it is subsequently treated with HCl, the gelatin shows on the more acid side of the isoelectric point effects of the acid treatment only; while the effects of the alkali treatment disappear completely, showing that the negative gelatin ions formed by the previous treatment with alkali can no longer exist in a solution with a pH < 4.7. When gelatin is first treated with acid and afterwards with alkali on the alkaline side of the isoelectric point only the effects of the alkali treatment are noticeable.
3. On the acid side of the isoelectric point amphoteric electrolytes can only combine with the anions of neutral salts, on the less acid side of their isoelectric point only with cations; and at the isoelectric point neither with the anion nor cation of a neutral salt. This harmonizes with the statement made in the first paragraph, and the experimental results on the effect of neutral salts on gelatin published in the writer's previous papers.
4. The reason for this influence of the hydrogen ion concentration on the stability of the two forms of ionization possible for an amphoteric electrolyte is at present unknown. We might think of the possibility of changes in the configuration or constitution of the gelatin molecule whereby ionized gelatin can exist only as an anion on the alkaline side and as a cation on the acid side of its isoelectric point.
5. The literature of colloid chemistry contains numerous statements which if true would mean that the anions of neutral salts act on gelatin on the alkaline side of the isoelectric point, e.g. the alleged effect of the Hofmeister series of anions on the swelling and osmotic pressure of common gelatin in neutral solutions, and the statement that both ions of a neutral salt influence a protein simultaneously. The writer has shown in previous publications that these statements are contrary to fact and based on erroneous methods of work. Our present paper shows that these claims of colloid chemists are also theoretically impossible.
6. In addition to other physical properties the conductivity of gelatin previously treated with acids has been investigated and plotted, and it was found that this conductivity is a minimum in the region of the isoelectric point, thus confirming the conclusion that gelatin can apparently not exist in ionized condition at that point. The conductivity rises on either side of the isoelectric point, but not symmetrically for reasons given in the paper. It is shown that the curves for osmotic pressure, viscosity, swelling, and alcohol number run parallel to the curve of the conductivity of gelatin when the gelatin has been treated with acid, supporting the view that these physical properties are in this case mainly or exclusively a function of the degree of ionization of the gelatin or gelatin salt formed. It is pointed out, however, that certain constitutional factors, e.g. the valency of the ion in combination with the gelatin, may alter the physical properties of the gelatin (osmotic pressure, etc.) without apparently altering its conductivity. This point is still under investigation and will be further discussed in a following publication.
7. It is shown that the isoelectric point of an amphoteric electrolyte is not only a point where the physical properties of an ampholyte experience a sharp drop and become a minimum, but that it is also a turning point for the mode of chemical reactions of the ampholyte. It may turn out that this chemical influence of the isoelectric point upon life phenomena overshadows its physical influence.
8. These experiments suggest that the theory of amphoteric colloids is in its general features identical with the theory of inorganic hydroxides (e.g. aluminum hydroxide), whose behavior is adequately understood on the basis of the laws of general chemistry.