1. The effect of eight salts, NaCl, Na2SO4, Na4Fe(CN)6, CaCl2, LaCl3, ThCl4, and basic and acid fuchsin on the cataphoretic P.D. between solid particles and aqueous solutions was measured near the point of neutrality of water (pH 5.8). It was found that without the addition of electrolyte the cataphoretic P.D. between particles and water is very minute near the point of neutrality (pH 5.8), often less than 10 millivolts, if care is taken that the solutions are free from impurities. Particles which in the absence of salts have a positive charge in water near the point of neutrality (pH 5.8) are termed positive colloids and particles which have a negative charge under these conditions are termed negative colloids.
2. If care is taken that the addition of the salt does not change the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution (which in these experiments was generally pH 5.8) it can be said in general, that as long as the concentration of salts is not too high, the anions of the salt have the tendency to make the particles more negative (or less positive) and that cations have the opposite effect; and that both effects increase with the increasing valency of the ions. As soon as a maximal P.D. is reached, which varies for each salt and for each type of particles, a further addition of salt depresses the P.D. again. Aside from this general tendency the effects of salts on the P.D. are typically different for positive and negative colloids.
3. Negative colloids (collodion, mastic, Acheson's graphite, gold, and metal proteinates) are rendered more negative by low concentrations of salts with monovalent cation (e.g. Na) the higher the valency of the anion, though the difference in the maximal P.D. is slight for the monovalent Cl and the tetravalent Fe(CN)6 ions. Low concentrations of CaCl2 also make negative colloids more negative but the maximal P.D. is less than for NaCl; even LaCl3 increases the P.D. of negative particles slightly in low concentrations. ThCl4 and basic fuchsin, however, seem to make the negative particles positive even in very low concentrations.
4. Positive colloids (ferric hydroxide, calcium oxalate, casein chloride—the latter at pH 4.0) are practically not affected by NaCl, are rendered slightly negative by high concentrations of Na2SO4, and are rendered more negative by Na4Fe(CN)6 and acid dyes. Low concentrations of CaCl2 and LaCl3 increase the positive charge of the particles until a maximum is reached after which the addition of more salt depresses the P.D. again.
5. It is shown that alkalies (NaOH) act on the cataphoretic P.D. of both negative and positive particles as Na4Fe(CN)6 does at the point of neutrality.
6. Low concentrations of HCl raise the cataphoretic P.D. of particles of collodion, mastic, graphite, and gold until a maximum is reached, after which the P.D. is depressed by a further increase in the concentration of the acid. No reversal in the sign of charge of the particle occurs in the case of collodion, while if a reversal occurs in the case of mastic, gold, and graphite, the P.D. is never more than a few millivolts. When HCl changes the chemical nature of the colloid, e.g. when HCl is added to particles of amphoteric electrolytes like sodium gelatinate, a marked reversal will occur, on account of the transformation of the metal proteinate into a protein-acid salt.
7. A real reversal in the sign of charge of positive particles occurs, however, at neutrality if Na4Fe(CN)6 or an acid dye is added; and in the case of negative colloids when low concentrations of basic dyes or minute traces of ThCl4 are added.
8. Flocculation of the suspensions by salts occurs when the cataphoretic P.D. reaches a critical value which is about 14 millivolts for particles of graphite, gold, or mastic or denatured egg albumin; while for collodion particles it was about 16 millivolts. A critical P.D. of about 15 millivolts was also observed by Northrop and De Kruif for the flocculation of certain bacteria.