Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Easy Reactions?

Kovoc - 4-8-2019 at 09:59

Can someone give me a few reactions I can do with household chemicals and a bit of glassware (I have an Erlenmeyer Flask, a 100mL beaker, and a few test tubes)?

icelake - 4-8-2019 at 10:10

Does your list of chemicals include Sulfuric/Nitric/Hydrochloric acid and Sodium hydroxide?

Kovoc - 4-8-2019 at 10:23


Kovoc - 4-8-2019 at 10:28

I have stuff like sodium bicarbonate. So nothing "dangerous"

icelake - 4-8-2019 at 10:52

These are easy enough and relatively safe :D

- NaHCO3 + CH3COOH→ CH3COONa + H2O + CO2
- 2 NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2 (heat ~80 °C)
- Electrolysis of Copper Sulfate using carbon electrodes (Cu + H2SO4 are the final products)

- CuSO4 + Fe → FeSO4 + Cu

[Edited on 4-8-2019 by icelake]

[Edited on 4-8-2019 by icelake]

stephill92 - 4-8-2019 at 13:59

You can buy CuSO4 as tree stump remover and react it with baking soda to make basic copper carbonate- Cu2(OH)2CO3

Sulaiman - 4-8-2019 at 18:01

Boil some red cabbage and use the filtered liquid as a pH indicator,

Felis Corax - 4-8-2019 at 22:28

Make a solution of MgSO4 in water. Perform electrolysis by placing a 9v battery in the solution, splitting H2O into H2 and O2. Fill a balloon with the oxyhydrogen mix and light it on fire. Fire is pretty! Giggle maniacally and repeat as necessary.

If you want to be a little fancier (and more scientific) you can isolate the H2 and O2 in test tubes. Or use the graduated cylinder to measure the rate of gas generation. And the rate at which the gas generation slows as the battery is depleted.

Felis Corax - 4-8-2019 at 22:32

Quote: Originally posted by stephill92  
You can buy CuSO4 as tree stump remover and react it with baking soda to make basic copper carbonate- Cu2(OH)2CO3

You're thinking root killer. Stump remover is KNO3.

[Edited on 2019-8-5 by Felis Corax]

draculic acid69 - 4-8-2019 at 23:03

You try finding kno3 otc in a tree stump remover these days.its all sodium metabisulfite now.

Herr Haber - 5-8-2019 at 01:25

As a kid I left a lot of colored stains everywhere in my room.

- Chalk from a black board. Even more fun with colors .
- Vinegar
- A jar with a metal lid as a reaction vessel. A pipette nozzle glued on the lid.
- An electric motor, a bulb, some wire and some cardboard to make a fan.

Pressure will build up, CO2 will be expelled by the nozzle rotating the fan and give you a dim light for a few seconds.
If you are lucky enough people will think you are such a genious it was well worth the yellow, white, red and blue stains on the carpet and ceiling.

Other than that, electrolysis of salt water (outside), mixing KNO3 with honey (if you got some like others suggest) to make a long life elixir (Chinese method).
There are a few experiments I can think of with bleach but they are unpleasant and serve mostly one purpose: to make sure you dont do them on accident.
You could also impress people with water boiling at 60 degrees. Take a bunch of sodium bicarbonate, pour it into a beaker with water and bring the temperature to 60 degrees. CO2 will come out. People will think it's boiling. Dip your hand in ! (Warning, 60 degrees is just about the pain threshold).

I was trying to think about what to do with Epsom salts but foud nothing.

Sulaiman - 5-8-2019 at 02:18

When I (re)started chemistry five years ago I bought a used 'Chemistry Set' via eBay.
A good start: spirit burer, test tubes and rack, test tube clamp, some useful chemicals etc.
This is the wrong season ... just after Christmas is the best time.

Felis Corax - 5-8-2019 at 05:47

Quote: Originally posted by draculic acid69  
You try finding kno3 otc in a tree stump remover these days.its all sodium metabisulfite now.

No need to try, I get my KNO3 from Spectracide stump remover, easily purchased from the mall for shut-ins.

I filter and recrystallize to purify, and then grind with a coffee grinder.

[Edited on 2019-8-5 by Felis Corax]

Ubya - 5-8-2019 at 06:23

well your glassware could easily substituted with normal glass bottles and drinling glasses, the real limit is what chemicals you can get hold of.
sodium bicarbonate is one, as it has already been suggested by heating it to over 80°C it decomposes to sodium carbonate. soium carbonate could be used to precipitate metal salts as carbonates.
copper sulphate is easy to get as root killer (already mentioned), magnesium sulphate also is easy to acquire.
if you have distilled vinegar you could dissolve the zinc casing of a zinc-carbon battery to make zinc acetate, then precipitate is as the carbonate with sodium carbonate.
try to find hydrochloric acid (also called muriatic acid) and sodium hydroxide, they are used as bathroom cleaning products.
many pencil sharpeners are made of magnesium metal, usually they are like this.
some sodium hydroxide could be made with an electrolysis cell (2 test tubes with a wet paper bridge between) and salt water.
you could try different ph indicators (cabbage, tea, beets, blackberries, blueberries, turmeric, geranium flowers, etc).
put a red hot copper wire over a thin layer of ethanol or acetone, it will keep glowing (search for copper catalytic oxidation of acetone).
by mixing milk and vinegar you separate the casein proteins, play with it.
i mean i could go on for ages, tell me if you prefer something

etherealvapour - 5-8-2019 at 08:24

Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  

some sodium hydroxide could be made with an electrolysis cell (2 test tubes with a wet paper bridge between) and salt water.

He could make a lot more with that:
- NaOH in one compartment
- Cl2 will bubble out the other and much of it will be decomposed into the water, so you'll actually have a mix of HCl and HClO in the water. If using UV or sunlight, it'll favor decomposition into HCl, so that's one way to make HCl. Lacking UV light, it'll favor decomposing to Cl2.

Obviously chlorine is rather annoying and toxic so OP should be careful and do it either outside or in a fume hood.
With the right electrodes, he might be able to also make sulfuric acid from some sulfate salt, or get to sulfuric acid by obtaining sulfur from somewhere (via way too many possible routes).
Most common chemicals you'd want in the lab could be made from available ones, but I'd argue the limit is the equipment: he'd need at least a distillation setup to do actual chemistry.

On making NaOH that way, the product is usually impure and contaminated with salt. Distilling it with normal glassware wouldn't be recommended since hot NaOH reacts with glass, even if I've seen some successful recrystallization attempts of it even with normal glassware, but it would be a bad idea to do it repeatedly with normal glassware.

Obviously electrolyzing brine will also give you NaOCl (bleach, sodium hypochlorite) at temperatures something under 70C (I don't remember how much exactly), and chlorate NaClO3 at higher, but that's starting to get more into energetic material territory (further electrolysis of NaClO3 with appropriate electrodes will yield the perchlorate, or by decomposition of NaClO3 at higher temperatures, followed by purification from acetone). Also be careful with most of what you make, a lot of them are quite toxic OP, even if you started from harmless substances.

Kuvoc, maybe try setting a goal for what you want to make and then figure out how you'll do it? I think you can reach quite a lot of interesting compounds, but the limits might be your equipment/glassware.

[Edited on 5-8-2019 by etherealvapour]

Kovoc - 5-8-2019 at 17:44

I don't want to make anything that is going to easily kill me. I guess my goal is to make lye using salt, I have graphite electrodes I extracted from batteries if they can be used

Felis Corax - 5-8-2019 at 21:14

Wear eye protection and follow good practice and you'll be fine. None of these reactions are especially dangerous, even the ones that evolve chlorine gas, but eyes are both fragile and valuable.

For making NaOH I don't know all the details as it's not a reaction I've done. I think graphite is a good choice, though it will degrade in basic conditions and the particles will contaminate your product. Less current will reduce the rate of degradation, but also the rate of reaction. Boiling the result should decompose all the sodium hypochlorite, though any unreacted NaCl will remain. You don't need a fume Hood provided you can open a window and set a fan to blow are outside.

etherealvapour - 6-8-2019 at 02:22

Quote: Originally posted by Kovoc  
I don't want to make anything that is going to easily kill me. I guess my goal is to make lye using salt, I have graphite electrodes I extracted from batteries if they can be used

Even sodium hydroxide can hurt you, you should at least make sure to keep your eyes safe. You can't avoid chlorine from being generated, this is the cell:
On the anode (positive voltage), you'll have chlorine generated, on the cathode you'll have hydrogen generated. Keep in mind chlorine is heavier than air and hydrogen lighter than air. Hydrogen presents a fire hazard and chlorine is toxic, but nowhere near as bad unless your exposure is either chronic or in high concentrated amounts (lungful of chlorine gas is quite unpleasant). You really should be doing this in a fume hood, or if unavailable outside. In the anode compartment you'll have Cl2 dissolved in water, which you could use to make some diluted HCl by leaving it in the sunlight (favoring decomposing of HClO+HCl to O2 and HCl, rather than H2O and Cl2)

The graphite electrodes work fine, although they do corrode eventually, especially battery ones, it might be possible to heat treat them in a flame to make them last longer, also making carbon electrodes is not very hard, some simple ways are just taking charcoal, a binder (like sugar or something more inert) and heat treating it in a flame until it's fairly solid. Make sure to test its resistance with a multimeter and and observe the voltage you applied and current flow through the circuit.

You mostly only need a carbon anode (+), the cathode is not as important, even iron works, although an iron anode will dissolve into solution and contaminate your product with Fe2+ ions (they look deep green in solution), that will get oxidized to red Fe3+ ions (rust!) and precipitate.If there are iron oxides on your cathode, they may also go into solution, although they can be removed, or a small test run can be done first to remove them. Using carbon electrodes for both is likely simplest.

The most important part is having some sort of diaphragm or membrane, without it, you will produce NaOCl (bleach, sodium hypochlorite). A diaphragm will prevent the solutions in the compartments from mixing, if they do mix, you'll just get NaCl and NaOCl. Keeping the temperature low or normal during electrolysis is preferable, at over 70C you'll produce more chlorate (NaClO3), lower it should be mostly NaOCl. In an ideal cell where mixing doesn't exist, such as cells using actual membranes (but those are more expensive), the reaction wouldn't take place and the temperature wouldn't matter for that reason.

There's many suitable diaphragms, some use flower pots, I've also tried some thick paper before, it can work in some circumstances, although it has to be permeable enough to allow ions to pass, but not so much that the solutions are mixing too much. Industrially they used to prefer asbestos when diaphragm cells were used. I wonder how well would some packed glass wool work.

Also remember, there are more than one ways to skin a cat, if you really didn't want to deal with the produced chlorine, you can make NaOH some other way.

Presumably you have access to some form of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) in your kitchen (hundreds of years back they might have burned some wood to get K2CO3 or potash), dehydrating the bicarbonate (above 50C) will get you Na2CO3.
Now if you had some calcium carbonate, for example from limestone, egg shells, sea shells, some types of chalk (not the sulfate ones), you could bake that up to CaO at around 600C, (or just buy CaO? it's quicklime), add water to make calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2 (slaked lime, so basically a common component of cement), this is a very exothermic reaction.

Reacting calcium hydroxide with a carbonate, like a potassium or sodium carbonate, will form the insoluble calcium carbonate (what you started with earlier), and your potassium or sodium hydroxide (lye), as the calcium carbonate is insoluble in water, while KOH and NaOH are soluble, the solution can thus be separated.

NaOH and KOH solutions will absorb CO2 from the environment and slowly, over time may become carbonates again. If you do attempt to boil away the water, please be aware that the vapors will be quite caustic (have a high basic pH), also that some molten hydroxides (except maybe LiOH?) will react with glass, so this should preferably not be done in glassware.

[Edited on 6-8-2019 by etherealvapour]

teodor - 6-8-2019 at 03:34

Quote: Originally posted by Kovoc  
Can someone give me a few reactions I can do with household chemicals and a bit of glassware (I have an Erlenmeyer Flask, a 100mL beaker, and a few test tubes)?

If your purpose is to discover the world of chemistry I would recommend to put things in a perspective. For example, take a description of 638 experiments from there and do what you can do with chemicals you have (the list of required chemicals for all experiments is on the last page). Your concern about safety is right, you just need some practice to understand what is a real danger and how it is connected with the way of manipulation. I think that sciencemadness wiki is a good starting place to make yourself familiar with any new compound (check the "Safety").

Doing this way you always will have some plan for acquisition of new compounds/equipment and doing new experiments and this will add a lot of sense because understanding of what you CAN NOT DO yet is very important to keep you going.

Kovoc - 6-8-2019 at 16:01

Okay, so I'll try to make and purify some lye, then I'll make copper sulfate, and then I want to try to make copper hydroxide. Why? Because

XeonTheMGPony - 7-8-2019 at 04:26

A solution of Calcium Chloride (CaCl), and a solution of Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4).

Mix together to see it snow.

AJKOER - 9-8-2019 at 04:37

If you search on SM under 'electro' and AJKOER, you will find several interesting experiments usually primarily available house chemicals.

It may also require the use of a microwave.

Unfortunately, the underlying chemistry is more often more complex and diverse, but the reaction speeds and quantities that can be produced exceed my expectations!

Now, some may think that employing strong HNO3 is the only path to nitrating, but I suspect introducing radicals, like the hydroxyl radical (•OH) can transform NO3- (from say KNO3) to the nitrate radical (•NO3) especially in the presence of H+ (from, for example, an organic acid) per the reaction:

•OH + NO3- = OH- + •NO3

Here is an example of a source reference, see 'Nitrate radicals and biogenic volatile organic compounds: oxidation, mechanisms, and organic aerosol', by Nga Lee Ng, et al, at . Per the paper's abstract:

"Oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) by the nitrate radical (NO3) represents one of the important interactions between anthropogenic emissions related to combustion and natural emissions from the biosphere."

Also, for more background, see 'The Reactivity of the Nitrate Radical (•NO3) in Aqueous and Organic Solutions', by
Stephen P. Mezyk, Thomas D. Cullen, Kimberly A. Rickman and Bruce J. Mincher, per the abstract to quote:

Rate constants for the nitrate (•NO3) radical reaction with alcohols, alkanes, alkenes, and several aromatic compounds were measured in aqueous and tert‐butanol solution for comparison to aqueous and acetonitrile values from the literature. The measured trends provide insight into the reactions of the •NO3 radical in various media. The reaction with alcohols primarily consists of hydrogen‐atom abstraction from the alpha‐hydroxy position and is faster in solvents of lower polarity where the diffusivity of the radical is greater. Alkenes react faster than alkanes, and their rate constants are also faster in nonpolar solution. The situation is reversed for the nitrate radical reaction with the aromatic compounds, where the rate constants in tert‐butanol are slower. This is attributed to the need to solvate the NO3− anion and corresponding tropylium cation produced by the •NO3 radical electron transfer reaction. A linear correlation was found between measured rate constants in water and acetonitrile, which can be used to estimate aqueous nitrate radical rate constants for compounds having low water solubility."

[Edited on 9-8-2019 by AJKOER]