1. briefly explain why it would not be possible to distinguish between sodium nitrate and sodium acetate with the test scheme used in this experiment
Both solutions are colorless, without chemical precipitate, and both contain sodium ions. Differences can be found only by analytical reactions to the anions. Acetate and nitrate ions are in one (3) analytical group. Nitrate ions can be detected by NH3 reducing with the action of aluminum in alkaline conditions. You can find the acetate ion directly by the smell of vinegar. By 3-5 drops of test solution add to 1 ml of dilute (1:1) H2SO4, and heat gently, the smell of vinegar will be evolved.