Lithium chloride

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Anhydrous LiCl in a tube.

Lithium chloride is an ionic salt of lithium with the chemical formula LiCl.

Properties

Chemical

LiCl will react with soluble salts of heavy metals, such as silver and lead(II) nitrate, to precipitate their insoluble chlorides.

LiCl + AgNO3 → LiNO3 + AgCl
2 LiCl + Pb(NO3)2 → 2 LiNO3 + PbCl2

Physical

Lithium is a white hygroscopic solid compound, soluble in water and many other solvents, such as methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, butanol, formic acid, N-Methylformamide, hydrazine, THF, although it is poorly soluble in acetone and ammonia. LiCl is completely insoluble in dichloromethane. Lithium chloride has a melting point at around 614 °C.

Availability

Lithium chloride can be purchased from chemical suppliers. ScienceCompany sells 100 g of LiCl at $18.95.

Preparation

Although lithium chloride can be prepared by reacting lithium metal with hydrochloric acid or chlorine gas, this method is both uneconomical and extremely dangerous, as it consumes the expensive metal. LiCl is much better prepared by reacting lithium carbonate with HCl. Completely dead lithium batteries are a good source of lithium carbonate. Lithium chloride can be dried to its anhydrous form by heating it in a stream of hydrogen chloride. Heating it without hydrogen chloride will cause it to partially hydrolyze.

Lithium oxide or hydroxide can also be used, but significant heat will be generated.

Projects

  • Making lithium metal

Handling

Safety

Lithium chloride affects the nervous system, so it should not be used as a salt substitute.

Storage

Lithium chloride is hygroscopic and must be stored in an airtight container (if you don't want to use its hydrated form).

Disposal

As lithium compounds can be hard to come by, they are best recycled.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads