Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Pure Gasses You Can Make... Any Ideas?

PickledPackratParalysis - 17-7-2013 at 06:41

I don't have a chemistry set but I did build my own simple electrolysis cell.... I have successfully produced 'pure' hydrogen and oxygen from the electrolysis of water... I know, noob stuff, but... I think that you can get 'relatively' pure CO2 from the baking soda/vinegar thing and also from yeast metabolism of sugar. The yeast one may not be the best because there's ethanol vapors in the gas that may mess up your experiments. You can get chlorine gas by reacting bleach with ammonia, but I have never tried that because it kills on contact! :cool:
I don't really know any other 'pure' gasses or useful mixtures of gas I can make.
Do y'all know any 'nooby' experiments I can do to get other good gasses?
Helium, Nitrogen, Laughing Gas?

This is just for something fun to do and to have the knowledge... I don't need a specific kind of gas but I want to broaden my knowledge of what I can make.

Thanks!

DeadHead - 17-7-2013 at 06:52

I know its not pure but iirc thermal decomp of ammonium nitrate will yield nitrous oxide the famed laughing gas.

PickledPackratParalysis - 17-7-2013 at 07:14

I don't think I have ammonium nitrate.... Could I get that by doing something simple to ammonia? As I said before I don't have a chemistry lab... If you have a way to do it with household stuff then I would be happy to try though.

sargent1015 - 17-7-2013 at 07:15

Do you want safe gases... or any gases? ;)

Mailinmypocket - 17-7-2013 at 07:22

You can produce nitrogen via sulfamic acid/sodium nitrite...oxygen via hydrogen peroxide MnO2, Ag, KMnO4 etc etc...

chemcam - 17-7-2013 at 07:35

Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  
You can get chlorine gas by reacting bleach with ammonia, but I have never tried that because it kills on contact!


What you're saying is not totally right, to get chlorine from bleach you need to use HCl not ammonia. The reaction with ammonia is far worse than just making chlorine gas. Let me try to explain.

If ammonia is in excess you may get this: 2NH3 + NaOCl → N2H4 + NaCl + H2O. So, N2H4' is hydrazine which is explosive. Although this isn't likely without better controlled environment, crazier things have happened.

If bleach is in excess you'll probably get mainly chloramine with some Cl2 but nowhere near pure. NaOCl + 2HCl → Cl2 + NaCl + H2O and then the chloine gas would react with ammonia: 2NH3 + Cl2 → 2NH2Cl
----
Helium is a noble gas so I doubt it can me made without the nuclear fusion of hydrogen, or radioactive decay of something.
----
You can make Oxygen from hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate.
----
You can make Methyl Mercaptan from H2S and Methanol over alumina. It smells like rotten cabbage.
----

bfesser - 17-7-2013 at 07:36

Here is a website that I stumbled upon a few years ago which you may find informative and useful:
<a href="http://mattson.creighton.edu/Microscale_Gas_Chemistry.html" target="_blank"><strong>Microscale Gas Chemistry</strong> by Bruce Mattson, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, Creighton University, Omaha NE</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />
I suppose there's nothing more interesting in Nebraska than the air...

<img src="../scipics/_warn.png" /> Mixing household bleach (typically 5.25% w/v aqueous NaOCl) and ammonia (aqueous 5-10% NH<sub>3</sub>;) can produce a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach#Chemical_interactions" target="_blank">mixture toxic gases</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. <img src="../scipics/_warn.png" />

[edit]
You don't need KMnO<sub>4</sub> to catalyze H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub> decomp. A drop of blood, a chunk of liver, a slice of potato, or even a pinch of baker's yeast is sufficient.
Helium <em>can</em> be isolated from the atmosphere (no nuclear reactor necessary!), but it's difficult, and likely beyond the means of most amateurs.

<strong>chemcam</strong>, where do you get these crazy ideas? :P

[Edited on 7/17/13 by bfesser]

PickledPackratParalysis - 17-7-2013 at 08:32

Quote: Originally posted by sargent1015  
Do you want safe gases... or any gases? ;)


I made hydrogen before and that wasn't exactly what most people would call safe... especially when I tested it with a red hot arc of steel wire... "BOOM!" Luckily it was just one test tube full of it and the cap was off so it was more a rocket than a bomb, but it startled the heck out of me... Didn't know you could make something so cool out of salt water!

But I am not interested in poisoning anyone, so toxic gasses are nice to know in theory but I wouldn't make many.... Though it might be fun to mix tiny amounts of bleach and ammonia in a sealed jar full of bugs to see how fast it takes effect. Using laughing gas on bugs would be fun too :cool:

"You can produce nitrogen via sulfamic acid/sodium nitrite...oxygen via hydrogen peroxide MnO2, Ag, KMnO4 etc etc..."

What's the common names for sulfamic acid and sodium nitrate? Are they easy to get?

bfesser - 17-7-2013 at 08:37

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_nitrite" target="_blank">Sodium nitr<u>i</u>te</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />, not nitr<u>a</u>te! <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfamic_acid" target="_blank">Sulfamic acid</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> <em>is</em> the common name. I recall seeing an espresso machine descaler that was nearly pure sulfamic acid.

Of course, the wiki article has an obligatory <strong>woelen</strong> photo. :D

[edit]
Of course, now that I mention it, the highest I can find is 15%&hellip;

Attachment: durgol-swiss-espresso-MSDS.pdf (72kB)
This file has been downloaded 361 times

[Edited on 7/17/13 by bfesser]

Mailinmypocket - 17-7-2013 at 09:40

The nitrite/sulfamic acid method for nitrogen works quite well, and vigorously...

[Edited on 17-7-2013 by Mailinmypocket]

chemcam - 17-7-2013 at 09:44

Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  

Helium <em>can</em> be isolated from the atmosphere (no nuclear reactor necessary!), but it's difficult, and likely beyond the means of most amateurs.

<strong>chemcam</strong>, where do you get these crazy ideas? :P

[Edited on 7/17/13 by bfesser]


What crazy ideas are you speaking of? Methyl Mercaptan? If so, I just have an obsession with sulfur compounds and work with them quite often.
----
Yes, helium can be isolated from the atmosphere but most of it got there by radioactive decay, right? The only reason I didn't mention the atmosphere is because it didn't fit the methods the OP had started with. It seemed to me like he wants a more interactive approach with things that are a bit more simple, like you hinted at.
----
I told him to use KMnO4 in the decomp of H2O2 because it is rather spectacular and awe-inducing. Granted you can decomp it many ways, this is just my favorite.
----
The OP is not asking for the most efficient way to do any of this he just wants to make some gasses by doing simple experiments. Why try to make it look like I am wrong? Everything I said was correct just not fully detailed. Instead of saying "You don't need KMnO4 to catalyze H2O2 decomp" you could have said, you can also use "A drop of blood, ... ..." if you don't have the mentioned KMnO4.

bfesser - 17-7-2013 at 09:59

Oh, relax; just the nuclear reactor thing. ;)

Now that I think about it, one could start with balloon grade helium as a feed stock which would make isolation and purification <em>much</em> easier. This would make a nice <strong><a href="forumdisplay.php?fid=20">Prepublication</a></strong> project for anyone so inclined.

I was merely suggesting some cheap and readily-available alternatives to KMnO<sub>4</sub>. You know my writing is wonky, so please don't try to read into it.

tubelectric - 17-7-2013 at 10:09

How about ozone? Install an electrical discharge device or UV-C lamps into a container and fill it with oxygen (from water electrolysis, H2O2 etc..) How high concentrations could be achieved this way? Wikipedia says 3 to 6% using a corona discharge machine and air and I guess it can be higher in a closed container and pure oxygen (which also eliminates the formation of nitrogen oxides). High enough to smell it at least?

[Edited on 17.7.2013 by tubelectric]

[Edited on 17.7.2013 by tubelectric]

chemcam - 17-7-2013 at 10:14

Alright, bfesser, that's my mistake sometimes I do read into things a little too far. Perhaps I thought you were carrying over frustration from that other thread. But trust me when I say I will not be getting involved with those type of threads anymore. I am here for chemistry! :)

bfesser - 17-7-2013 at 10:31

Back on topic:
Ozone generation has been discussed <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_nauseam" target="_blank">ad nauseam</a></em> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. (It's a pun! Get it? You know, because O<sub>3</sub> makes you&hellip; sick&hellip; oh, nevermind!)

Here are links to some recent activity:
<strong><a href="viewthread.php?tid=24934">Ozone solubilities - Chlorocarbons</a>
<a href="viewthread.php?tid=8343">Electrochemical ozone generation</a>
<a href="viewthread.php?tid=23234">Ozone-generator for decontamination</a>
<a href="viewthread.php?tid=375">O3?</a></strong>

Endimion17 - 17-7-2013 at 10:48

The title contains "pure", yet no pure gases are being discussed.

Any reaction in aqueous solution which gives off gases will not produce pure gases. They will be contaminated with water vapor which doesn't settle, like aerosol settles after a while, but is carried along.

The only reactions I can remember right now, giving pure gaseous phase, are thermal decomposition of potassium permanganate, which produces oxygen, and explosive thermal decomposition of sodium azide, giving nitrogen.

I think there are inorganic compounds which, on heating, give off halogen elements and solid product. Obviously, highly reactive compounds. I can't remember any at the moment, though.

Hydrogen infused into some metals can not be considered as part of a compound, so that's not important.

bbartlog - 17-7-2013 at 10:52

Well, you could always bubble the gases through sulfuric acid (or a dry ice condenser in some cases) to get rid of the water vapor. Or baked cotton balls. Depends on how much moisture you'll tolerate before you consider your gas 'impure'.

Endimion17 - 17-7-2013 at 11:12

I know, but the topic of production of immediately pure gases is something that's usually mentioned during the academic education as something special.

We can purify everything if we want to, even complex gaseous mixtures, so the whole notion of "pure" in the terms of getting mixture is pointless.
I can say my ass produces pure carbon dioxide because I can take the expelled gas and remove everything but CO2, just as I can take any aqueous, gas producing reaction and remove water, or decomposition of a solid into two gases and remove one of them (lead(II) nitrate gives off oxygen and nitrogen dioxide, ammonium dichromate gives off nitrogen and water vapor).

PickledPackratParalysis - 17-7-2013 at 12:06

So if you mix sodium nitrite-containing espresso cleaner with blood you get an explosion that gives you Nitrogen? So many different takes on that part that it is kind of hard to tell...

And the ozone production seemed kind of cool... I think I can make the electric reactor if someone would give more precise instructions of what needs to be done... I am seeing a lot of ways to potentially make ozone but more info on how to do the one where you electrically discharge in oxygen would be nice.

As far as pure goes I don't need PURE pure... just want something I can work with in other experiments.

bfesser - 17-7-2013 at 12:14

There are plenty of details in the topic (<strong>Electrochemical ozone generation</strong>;) I linked to above. Please read it completely before asking for more spoon-feeding.

Manifest - 17-7-2013 at 12:18

You can do an electrolysis on Potassium Chloride solution to make Potassium chlorate!

On topic with gasses, Potassium chlorate decomposes to Potassium chloride and Oxygen.

Mailinmypocket - 17-7-2013 at 12:34

Espresso cleaner contains sulfamic acid, not sodium nitrite! Combining sulfamic acid (or sodium nitrite for that matter) with blood certainly would not create nitrogen gas.

woelen - 17-7-2013 at 12:47

I think the OP refers to production of gasses from reactions which can be done fairly easily with common chemicals from aqueous solution. Some water vapor always will be present then, but besides that, quite some gases can be made in a 'pure' state, simply bubbling out of solution. I will mention a few (I did all of these myself a few times, many of the reactions are on my website):

O2: dilute 6% H2O2 and MnO2, dilute 6% H2O2 and KMnO4
CO2: sodium bicarbonate and any dilute acid
Cl2: TCCA and dilute HCl, Ca(ClO)2 and dilute HCl (beware: very toxic)
H2S: FeS or Na2S and dilute HCl (beware: very toxic, numbs sense of smell)
CH3ONO: add some NaNO2 to a solution of CH3OH in dilute H2SO4
CH3CH2ONO: add some NaNO2 to a luke-warm solution of CH3CH2OH in dilute H2SO4
ClO2: NaClO2 added to moderately concentrated HCl (beware: dangerously explosive)
CH3OCl: add some CH3OH to a mix of bleach and acetic acid (beware: when ignited, it explodes)
H2: Al in dilute HCl, Mg in dilute HCl, electrolysis
CH3CH3: Electrolysis of a solution of sodium acetate, acidified with acetic acid
CO: Add some formic acid to concentrated H2SO4
NO2: Add some copper to concentrated HNO3 (65%)
NO/NO2-mix: Add some sodium nitrite to warm dilute sulphuric acid
SO2: Add some solid sodium metabisulfite to appr. 50% H2SO4 and heat gently.
ONBr: Add some solid NaNO2 to 40% HBr
NO: Add some solid NaNO2 to an acidified solution of FeSO4. Avoid contact with air.
(CN)2: Add some solid KCN to a solution of CuSO4 and heat gently (beware: extremely toxic)
HCl: Add some solid NaCl to conc. H2SO4; drip conc. H2SO4 into conc. hydrochloric acid
PH3: Add a piece of white P to a solution of NaOH and heat gently. Avoid contact with air!
C2H2: Add a piece of calcium carbide to water
ClN3: Add a solution of NaN3 to a mix of bleach and acetic acid (beware: ClN3 explodes when ignited)

All of the above experiments are very simple, the gases simply bubble out of the liquid, neatly and not violently. You easily can get a test tube filled with the (nearly) pure gas. The most violent is the production of CO2.

papaya - 17-7-2013 at 13:03

Any wet method for N2O (preferably pure) ?

bbartlog - 17-7-2013 at 13:12

Sure. Sulfamic acid plus nitric acid (around azeotropic concentration). Or you could try this:
https://www.erowid.org/archive/rhodium/chemistry/nitrous.htm...

But in either case you would want to run the resulting gas through one or more scrubbers before you could call it 'pure'.

To woelen's list I would also add ethylene and propylene, either of which can be produced by dehydrating the appropriate alcohol with sulfuric acid.

Hexavalent - 17-7-2013 at 13:13

See above, papaya. N2O is the aforementioned "laughing gas".

Most of your are probably aware of this, but the helium cylinders sold to inflate balloons often contain a considerable amount of oxygen, to reduce the risk of hypoxia when people inevitably inhale the gas.

[Edited on 17-7-2013 by Hexavalent]

papaya - 17-7-2013 at 13:48

WET I meant, that was answered
2 (NH2)2CO + 2 HNO3 + H2SO4 -> 2 N2O + 2 CO2 + (NH4)2SO4 + 2 H2O

very interesting, thanks!

chemcam - 17-7-2013 at 14:04

Quote: Originally posted by Hexavalent  

Most of your are probably aware of this, but the helium cylinders sold to inflate balloons often contain a considerable amount of oxygen.


I have never heard that before, the lead seller of helium in America, airgas, sells it as 99% Helium - Balloon gas. Also IIRC helium is added to oxygen tanks to dilute the Oxygen in diver tanks. The only reason I know this is because I have a helium tank meant for balloons. I am sure you could request a mix but wouldnt the weight of oxygen effect balloon buoyancy?

AndersHoveland - 17-7-2013 at 15:12

Bleach and ammonia will form a mix of nitrogen and chloramine gases.

Bleach (hypochlorite) and hydrogen peroxide will form oxygen.

Bleach and acid (usually hydrochloric) will form chlorine.

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and acid will form carbon dioxide.

Aluminum foil and sodium hydroxide solution (lye) will form hydrogen. Iron and hydrochloric acid will also form hydrogen.

Concentrated sulfuric acid can easily dehydrate isopropyl alcohol to propylene gas.

Sodium sulfite and acid gives off sulfur dioxide. Sodium nitrite and dilute acid gives off nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, only nitrogen dioxide if here is an equal amount of nitrate in the solution.

[Edited on 17-7-2013 by AndersHoveland]

woelen - 18-7-2013 at 03:58

I can add more gases to my list, but making these is somewhat more involved, more risky, or requires more work.

SiH4: Mix powdered SiO2 (very fine white sand will do) and powdered Mg in a stoichiometric ratio SiO2 : Mg = 1 : 4 and heat strongly until reaction occurs. Orange glow goes through test tube. Break apart test tube and after cooling collect blue/grey solid. Add this solid to dilute HCl. Collect the gas under water, it ignites in contact with air.

CH4: Strongly heat a mix of sodium hydroxide and anhydrous sodium acetate (in a 1 : 1 ratio by weight). Methane gas is produced from this mix. Beware, this mix attacks glass of test tubes.

NH3: Prepare a mix of NH4Cl and NaOH and add a few drops of water to the mix to get it started. Quite some heat is produced and gaseous NH3 escapes from the mix.

HBr: Heat some H3PO4 (85%) until most of the water has boiled away. To the still hot acid add some solid NaBr or KBr and gently keep heating. HBr is produced at a slow rate.

N2: Dissolve some NaNO2 in water. Dissolve some NH4Cl or (NH4)2SO4 or NH4NO3 in water and mix the two solutions. Heat the mix. Pure nitrogen gas is evolved.

N2O: Dissolve some NaNO2 in water. Dissolve some [NH3OH]Cl or (NH3OH)2SO4 in water and mix the two solutions. Heat the mix. Pure N2O gas is evolved.

ONCl: Add some solid NaNO2 to 30% HCl (not 37%, because at that high concentration the NaNO2 is covered by an insoluble crust of NaCl). Orange ONCl is produced. Most of it, however, remains in solution, it is not really easy to get this in a concentrated gaseous state.

CH2O: Add a lot of solid NaOH to 35+ % formaldehyde. The CH2O is 'salted out' and escapes as gas bubbles from the liquid.



Some gases which I want to produce, but did not yet find a decent way with reagents available to me:
- CH3Cl (simply adding dry HCl to CH3OH does not seem to work).
- ON-CN (nitrosyl cyanide, a blue gas)
- CH2=CH2 (dehydration of ethanol in sulphuric acid? But this produces a mix of all kinds of stuff when not well controlled, or am I wrong?)
- CH2=CHCl
- NH2Cl (mixing bleach and NH3 gives very impure product, mostly N2 and also some N2H4-vapor).

[Edited on 18-7-13 by woelen]

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 07:53

Thanks Woelen and AndersHoveland! That was the kind of information I was looking for... Simple procedures I can use with household materials. Looks like I will be needing some hydrochloric and sulfuric acid though for some of the stuff.... I think hydrochloric and formic acid are the same thing, and I had wanted some formic acid for ant experiments anyway. Might get away with buying some of that.

If there were only like 5 chemicals you could buy for a wide range of experiments, what would they be? I have seen a lot of stuff with hydrochloric acid and potassium chloride.... I don't want to buy anything that will get me in jail, but there might be some stuff I can react with electricity to make even more different chemicals. Might start my chemistry set by buying some Hydrochloric acid unless you have other suggestions.

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 07:55

Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  
I think hydrochloric and formic acid are the same thing, and I had wanted some formic acid for ant experiments anyway.
This is absolutely incorrect! I think your confusing the antiquated name for <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrochloric_acid" target="_blank">hydrochloric acid</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> (<u>muriatic</u> acid) with the IUPAC name for <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formic_acid" target="_blank">formic acid</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />, <u>mehtanoic</u> acid&mdash;both four syllables, start with m-, end in -ic . You'll have to get used to chemical names that look or sound nearly identical (e.g. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrocyanide" target="_blank">ferr<u>o</u>cyanide</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> vs. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferricyanide" target="_blank">ferr<u>i</u>cyanide</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrate" target="_blank">nitr<u>a</u>te</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> vs. <a href="" target="_blank">nitr<u>i</u>te</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />;). Mistakes are common and overlooked by the general public, but can be lethal in the lab. In chemistry, every character matters! I know it's a lot to absorb all at once, but learning good habits early on will save you a lot of future headaches.

[Edited on 7/18/13 by bfesser]

chemcam - 18-7-2013 at 08:34

Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  

If there were only like 5 chemicals you could buy for a wide range of experiments, what would they be?


These are the first 5 chemicals I bought to start my lab: Acids/Bases mostly

1. Nitric Acid 70%
2. Sulfuric Acid 99%
3. Hydrochloric Acid 31.45%
4. Hydrogen Peroxide 35%
5. Sodium Hydroxide Flakes

I already had numerous solvents from my job, acetone, MEK, MIBK, chloroform, dichloromethane...many more.

The first experiments I did involved metals and acids/bases, I was into copper salts for a while there. Now I have probably over 100 different lab grade reagents, some very rare.

Hexavalent - 18-7-2013 at 08:52

Personally, if I were a complete beginner I would purchase;

-Sulfuric acid
-Hydrochloric acid
-Copper sulfate
-Sodium bicarbonate
-Sodium hydroxide

These allow for a wide variety of experiments - preparing salts, observing precipitates, starting to predict reactions, learning to take observations (exotherms, etc.), which are ideal for the beginning chemist.

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 10:41

Thanks guys! I don't want to get anything too dangerous all at once (parents would get worried) but I'm pretty sure they sell at least one, and possibly both hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid at the auto parts store as battery acid... or maybe that was muriatic (formic) acid. Don't know, but a lot of the experiments I want to do involve the effects of chemicals/gasses on bugs, invertabrates of different kinds, etc... Formic acid is what ant trails are mostly made of, and ants follow it, and if there's a lot of it the smell drives them into an attack frenzy. I wanted to try gassing some bugs with various gasses and see what kind of strange behaviors they exhibit. First I need to find out what concentration of the gas would be effective... For CO2 it would most likely take a majority of the atmosphere to effect insects... Chlorine or chloramine would probably work at small concentrations. Maybe they would even do something cool in an atmosphere of nearly pure oxygen.
Anyway, it looks like I have a few things to try and some chemicals to try to get.

Hexavalent - 18-7-2013 at 10:56

Battery acid is ~35% sulfuric acid, which is ideal for a beginner. It's formula is H2SO4.
Hydrochloric acid is sold as spirits of salt or muriatic acid in hardware stores. It's formula is HCl.
Formic acid is sold as descaling liquid. It's formula is HCOOH.

I would suggest you avoid experimenting on animals, though, and even I, and many other experienced chemists, would not work with chloramine by choice. It is extremely toxic, and the reaction between bleach and hydrochloric acid can produce it, and hydrazine, in plentiful amounts. Both are extremely poisonous, potentially carcinogenic, and generally nasty: I would highly recommend you do not attempt to prepare it, let alone experiment with it.

As a beginner with clearly very little experience, I'd advise you to start with basic aqueous inorganic chemistry: the copper sulfate I mentioned is a nice starting material, as many other compounds can be prepared from it with simple chemicals, exploring various chemical reactions and processes.

[Edited on 18-7-2013 by Hexavalent]

woelen - 18-7-2013 at 11:35

A very good way to reduce risks to almost non-existent is buying a pile of test tubes and do your experiments on a test tube scale. Just use a few milliliters of liquids, dissolve small spatulas of solids in distilled water and mix these. Even if a very toxic gas like Cl2 or NH2Cl is formed in such cases the risk of killing or maiming yourself is virtually non-existent. Working outside is another good thing to start with.

Buying just 5 chemicals is too little. You need more if you want some interesting experimenting, but to start with, these chemicals can be purchased OTC in a supermarket or drugstore. Some to think of are:
- bleach (5% active chlorine)
- ammonia (5% ammonia)
- sodium carbonate
- sodium bicarbonate
- potassium metabisulfite (look at wine making companies, Campden tablets or powder)
- butane gas (cigarette lighter is OK, just press the button while the thing is under water, bubbles of butane rise up to the surface)
- iron powder
- aluminium tubes (using a file or fine saw to make coarse powder of this)
- cleaning vinegar (appr. 10% acetic acid)

Next, purchase the following somewhat more common chemicals:
- hydrochloric acid
- sulphuric acid
- sodium hydroxide
- copper sulfate
- hydrogen peroxide (3%)

With these chemicals you already can do quite a few nice experiments and you do not have to spend a small fortune to obtain them.

chemcam - 18-7-2013 at 11:42

Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  
. or maybe that was muriatic (formic) acid.


You made the same mistake that bfesser just tried to explain to you. Muriatic acid IS NOT formic acid. Maybe you had misunderstood him that's why I am being very blunt about it. We try not to let mistakes go unnoticed on this forum because with chemistry it can be deadly. Please be careful.

Hydrochloric acid is Muriatic Acid and the formula is HCl
Formic acid is Methanoic Acid and the formula is HCOOH or HCO2H
You can see they are completely different.

[Edited on 7-18-2013 by chemcam]

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 12:18

Thanks for noticing that, <strong>chemcam</strong>. I swear, some people's children&hellip;

<table><tr><td colspan="2" align="center"><strong>PickledPackratParalysis:</strong></td></tr><tr><td align="center">hydrochloric acid</td><td align="center">methanoic acid</td></tr><tr><td align="center">HCl</td><td align="center">H<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>2</sub></td></tr><td><img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Hydrogen-chloride-3D-vdW.png" height="100" /></td><td><img src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Formic-acid-3D-vdW.png" height="100" /></td></tr><tr><td align="center">'muriatic' acid</td><td align="center">'formic' acid</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2" align="center"><em><strong><marquee>NOT THE SAME THING!</marquee></strong></em></td></tr></table>
P.S. <em>Please stop calling it 'muriatic acid'.</em>

[Edited on 7/18/13 by bfesser]

Endimion17 - 18-7-2013 at 12:37

Quote: Originally posted by Hexavalent  
I would suggest you avoid experimenting on animals, though)(...)


Why, if he's using insects? They're so neurologically undeveloped creatures that we can eliminate the notion of suffering.
If he understands that, his desire to experiment with dousing bugs with various gases and vapors is completely normal and nonviolent.

It would be bad (for him) if he thought they were suffering and enjoyed it, and bad for them if they actually suffered.
It's not like he's going to use reptiles, birds, mammals, which do suffer, especially mammals with their developed neocortex.
For the record, the only mammal I approve an amateur should experiment on is the amateur experimenter himself, if he knows what he's doing. There is a variety of things one can do, qualitative and quantitative, and it can be done in a safe manner.
There are also unsafe experiments, but they aren't unethical, just irresponsible.

So, if he wants to blast some ants with weak formic acid vapors to see them "freak out", or douse some butterflies with chloroform or ethyl acetate, he should totally go for it.
One thing I don't recommend is making a cyanide killing jar. That can totally end with a tragedy.



ps: I agree with bfesser, these ancient names are irritating. This is a place to discuss chemistry, not alchemistry.
I seriously can't believe that even today, you can buy mineral acids called "spirits of something", like it's Halloween 24/7. :D
Ah, the wonders of English language. :)

ps 2: before actually buying things like formic acid, one must know the difference between hydrochloric acid and formic acid. I was unpleasantly surprised to read that thing earlier.

[Edited on 18-7-2013 by Endimion17]

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 12:47

Quote: Originally posted by Endimion17  
. . . or douse some butterflies with chloroform or ethyl acetate, he should totally go for it.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop the train right there! I was agreeing with you right up to this. I don't advocate senselessly killing <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly" target="_blank">butterflies</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. Many lepidoptera species are <a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/" target="_blank">critically endangered</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> and protected by international law. I count nine <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_species_in_North_America#Insects_and_arachnids" target="_blank">species</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> in North America alone. Unless he's a professional <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidopterist" target="_blank">lepidopterist</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />&mdash;which I <em>really</em> doubt&mdash;he could cause extinction events! Besides, when's the last time a colony of butterflies invaded your house? Think of the poor innocent butterflies.

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

turd - 18-7-2013 at 13:29

Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
he could cause extinction events!

No, he couldn't. Think about it - a few people experimenting on butterflies are completely irrelevant for the survival of an insect species. Real factors are the destruction of the natural habitat, environmental/climatic changes, etc.

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 13:41

Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
Quote: Originally posted by Endimion17  
. . . or douse some butterflies with chloroform or ethyl acetate, he should totally go for it.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop the train right there! I was agreeing with you right up to this. I don't advocate senselessly killing <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly" target="_blank">butterflies</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. Many lepidoptera species are <a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/" target="_blank">critically endangered</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> and protected by international law. I count nine <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_species_in_North_America#Insects_and_arachnids" target="_blank">species</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> in North America alone. Unless he's a professional <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidopterist" target="_blank">lepidopterist</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />&mdash;which I <em>really</em> doubt&mdash;he could cause extinction events! Besides, when's the last time a colony of butterflies invaded your house? Think of the poor innocent butterflies.


Not a professional lepidopterist, but you may be surprised that I have studied insects scientifically ever since I was able to read, and I know what kinds of invertebrates I can get in sufficient quantity without doing ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to the 'big picture' of the ecosystem. I was thinking more along the lines of fruit flies, grasshoppers, and earthworms. I may not be worth a (what beavers make) when it comes to chemistry, but am actually pretty decent when it comes to entomology, botany (especially edible wild plants), and general biology and ecology. I actually have a terrarium with wild reptiles and amphibians some of which I have had 7 years, that I have kept alive by feeding them mostly wild insects/invertebrates...

But I understand that there could be a big issue when confusing similar sounding chemicals. In botany the problem is when someone confuses wild carrot (Daucus carota) with poison hemlock, (Conium maculatum)... They look similar to the noob, but one is good for you and the other kills you within 15 minutes. With a little experience one can tell them apart easily...
So thanks for clearing it up about hydrochloric and formic acid!

<!-- bfesser_edit_tag -->[<a href="u2u.php?action=send&username=bfesser">bfesser</a>: updated my own link in the quote with a better one]

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

Manifest - 18-7-2013 at 13:41

Quote: Originally posted by turd  
Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
he could cause extinction events!

No, he couldn't. Think about it - a few people experimenting on butterflies are completely irrelevant for the survival of an insect species. Real factors are the destruction of the natural habitat, environmental/climatic changes, etc.


Still! It seems a bit sick killing butterflies with chlorine!

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 13:44

P.S. I think why some ants taste sour is the formic acid in their abdomen... I'll make sure I get some methanoic acid to use rather than HCl though!

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 13:52

Trying to bring this thread somewhat back on topic:
<strong>PickledPackratParalysis</strong>, do you have any introductory books on chemistry?

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 15:45

I have "Chemistry" by Myers, Oldham, and Tocci... It's my high school textbook on chemistry and where I got the idea for the electrolysis cell for salt water. Needless to say I barely made a C on that course, so chemistry's not a natural strong point for me... however, I'm into all things scientific, so I decided to try to learn more.

Endimion17 - 18-7-2013 at 16:15

Quote: Originally posted by bfesser  
Quote: Originally posted by Endimion17  
. . . or douse some butterflies with chloroform or ethyl acetate, he should totally go for it.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop the train right there! I was agreeing with you right up to this. I don't advocate senselessly killing <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly" target="_blank">butterflies</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />. Many lepidoptera species are <a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/" target="_blank">critically endangered</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> and protected by international law. I count nine <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_species_in_North_America#Insects_and_arachnids" target="_blank">species</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> in North America alone. Unless he's a professional <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidopterist" target="_blank">lepidopterist</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />&mdash;which I <em>really</em> doubt&mdash;he could cause extinction events! Besides, when's the last time a colony of butterflies invaded your house? Think of the poor innocent butterflies.

[Edited on 7/18/13 by bfesser]


I'm not advocating a complete disregard for the butterflies. Of course, there are endangered species and that needs to be respected, even though the harm to a population might not be significant from one individual making a collection.
By all means, those laws have to be respected. I'm totally against breaking them.

But non-endangered species? Why the hell not? If he's not a sadist, where's the damage? They don't suffer when being killed, their species isn't in peril... I see no problem with gassing few of them. Do you object to spraying a house fly?

I'm certainly not one of those "gotta catch them all" assholes or senseless people who'd "just gas them all" just because they fly around. Also, I like them and would never kill such creature just because.



Quote: Originally posted by Manifest  
Still! It seems a bit sick killing butterflies with chlorine!


If a person doing it is sane and experiences no sadistic joy thinking he inflicts suffering, it's just curiosity.
There's a well defined boundary here.

Chlorine or permethrin or folded newspapers, it's the same for that small biochemical robot we call a moth. Not only it's completely unaware of itself, it feels no suffering because it has no brain.
Imagine one of those tiny robots that are currently being developed. That's it, only far more superior.

<!-- bfesser_edit_tag -->[<a href="u2u.php?action=send&username=bfesser">bfesser</a>: updated my own link in the quote with a better one]

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 16:16

<strong>PickledPackratParalysis</strong>, that's great! I love to hear that young people are still becoming interested in chemistry, even if it hasn't been presented to them as easy or exciting. I've been getting out of chemistry and more into botany and geology myself, lately.

I'd like to suggest <em>General Chemistry</em> by Linus Pauling as the definitive introductory work on the subject. It may not be the easiest, but it's thorough and widely available. I also have a book titled <em>Chemistry: a Cultural Approach</em> by William F. Kieffer. I haven't read it, but it looks like it's <em>very</em> easy.

Three lectures given by Linus Pauling on <em>Valence and Molecular Structure</em>:
<iframe sandbox width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLH27cxqYTgN5AurY4MKpcc9uk7EzSXAfe" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

PickledPackratParalysis - 18-7-2013 at 17:42

@ bfesser

Thanks for the advice... I didn't watch the whole vid (kinda long) but it does seem interesting. May watch it later when I have more time.

@endimon17

I have experimented with invertebrates several times (No mass extinctions yet)... When I was younger (like 8) I had no regard for vertebrates and their 'higher' consciousness and used to experiment with them... One time I heard that the white liquid toads excrete when threatened was toxic enough to kill a dog. Not having a dog around to try it on :o I grabbed one of my pet lizards and forced it to bite the toad on the poison gland (the two big bumps behind the head). Needless to say it died in seconds.
But don't worry... I usually use invertebrates now. And they are a lot easier to come by than a good lizard! And I still have that toad! I used another lizard to see how big of a prey item she could ingest at once :D next thing I knew there was a tail hanging out of her mouth like a piece of spaghetti.
That toad has even tried to eat the head off my pet box turtle a few times!

bfesser - 18-7-2013 at 17:52

To be honest, the lectures are quite dull. I had a hard time sitting through all three consecutively, partly because I'm already familiar with the material. I forced myself to watch them, because it's Linus Pauling, and he's like a deity in chemistry. There are plenty of exciting and interesting chemistry videos on YouTube, though. We even have some resident 'YouTubers' on this board. The important thing is, even if you get frustrated and confused, don't get discouraged. We're always here to help.

<a href="http://www.rigb.org/" target="_blank">The Royal Institution</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> puts out some fantastic videos:
<iframe sandbox width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ti_E2ZKZpC4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

woelen - 19-7-2013 at 01:00

A good way to kill insects without destroying external features of them is by immersing them in a mix of air and SO2. Chlorine is too aggressive and bleaches colors and destroys delicate features (e.g. the very fine dust-like material on the wings of butterflies or the very delicate mesh of dragonflies' wings).

I agree with endimion17 that there is nothing wrong with experimenting with insects. Even if you accidentally kill one instance of an endangered species, then I do not believe that that will have much impact. Indeed, environmental changes, pollution, large scale introduction of new predators (e.g. a foreign insect running loose in its new ecosystem), it is that kind of things which endanger species.

If people get aroused by maiming or killing animals, then they are sick and then of course it is bad, but such people need treatment anyway. I do not have the impression that our OP is such a type of person.

At the moment I am experimenting with ants. I read that boric acid is toxic for insects, while only being marginally toxic for mammals and birds. I have tissue paper balls in my garden at the moment, soaked with solutions of boric acid and a lot of sugar in water. These balls are very popular among the ants in my garden :D. Tens of ants are sitting on each ball, absorbing the sweet fluid. The workers absorb the syrup and take the syrup to their queens and these queens are killed. It looks like all coordination is left when the queen dies. All the ants just live for their own, they do not cooperate anymore. They spread out over the entire area, walking around erratically. After a week or so, I hope the ants will be gone. This is just an experiment of mine, trying to avoid the use of nasty toxins, which must be sprayed on the floor on the paths where the ants are walking. I do not really kill the individual ants, I destroy their 'society'.
Another interesting side observation: Boric acid dissolves in a strong solution of sugar very well, much better than in plain water.



[Edited on 19-7-13 by woelen]

bbartlog - 19-7-2013 at 04:29

Offtopic now of course, but Boeseken and Vermaas did a bunch of work with polyols (especially diols) and boric acid back in the 1930s. For example: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/recl.19320510106/...
So your observation on sugar and boric acid doesn't surprise me.



bfesser - 19-7-2013 at 06:38

Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
A good way to kill insects without destroying external features of them is by immersing them in a mix of air and SO2.
. . .
Even if you accidentally kill one instance of an endangered species, then I do not believe that that will have much impact. Indeed, environmental changes, pollution, large scale introduction of new predators (e.g. a foreign insect running loose in its new ecosystem), it is that kind of things which endanger species.
Since everyone continues to drag this thread off topic, I'll throw in my 2&cent; again. I don't mean to insult anyone, but it seems that a lot of this discussion has been mere speculation. <strong>woelen</strong>, I'm only quoting you because it's the latest post and it's well written; take it as a compliment.

First, a killing jar is an acceptable way to kill insects for study and preservation, but lepidoptera are soft-bodied (lack exoskeletons common in other insects) and can be killed simply by a quick <a href="http://butterflywebsite.com/articles/tamu/mountbutter.html" target="_blank">pinch</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" /> of the thorax. As I understand it, the pressure surge causes aneurysm in the 'brain' and <a href="http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-53026/Although-the-types-of-moths-and-butterflies-are-numerous-and" target="_blank">hearts</a> <img src="../scipics/_ext.png" />, resulting in instantaneous death. As far as I'm aware, this method is preferred by professionals and collectors, as it's efficient and doesn't damage the wings. Granted, the technique is harder to learn than using a killing jar.

Second, I strenuously disagree with the view that killing even a single instance of an endangered butterfly is no big deal. There are some butterfly species which are currently stable, but whose habitats are limited to perhaps only a few square kilometers in alpine meadows. The numbers of individuals of these species is obviously quite low, and killing even a single member can have a huge impact on the whole. If even a handful of collectors were to collect just one specimen each, these species would go extinct. I'm not arguing that pollution, climate change, and invasive species aren't factors, but they often don't compare to the threat posed by 'innocent' human curiosity.

Finally, there are certainly cases where climate change and pollution <em>are</em> the major factors contributing to a species being endangered (e.g. <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_(butterfly)" target="_blank">Parnassius apollo</a></em> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" /> & acid rain), but let's not downplay the detrimental effect that one careless individual can have.

[personal note]
I'm very passionate about this issue, because my parents instilled in me a great respect for nature, and lepidoptera in particular. My father has collected butterflies since he was very young, and has taught me much on the subject. He has quite a collection by now, as you might imagine. Some of the specimens are of species which are now considered endangered solely because of over-collection in earlier decades. He is very diligent in never collecting or purchasing specimens of endangered species.

Once it's pinned behind glass, you can't put it back.

[Edited on 7/19/13 by bfesser]

PickledPackratParalysis - 19-7-2013 at 09:03

I'm pretty sure boric acid is in the product Terro that kills ants... wait... I looked it up and it was Borax. I don't know if there's a difference. But yeah, it works.

Back to gasses... I had a 'friend', he was kind of a jerk but I overheard him saying something about mixing the toilet cleaner 'the Works' with aluminum foil to make an explosion. Being naturally inquisitive, I tried it, but it didn't work. Maybe the Works contains sodium hydroxide which would create hydrogen on contact with aluminum foil and that is what causes the explosion. I also tried making a rocket out of a water bottle full of pure hydrogen from electrolysis. When I activated the 'launcher' (steel wire short circuited attached to long pieces of copper wire attached to race car RC battery... which gets so hot the steel wire turns orange and melts), nothing happened other than the wire getting really bright and melting inside the water bottle. I take it that pure hydrogen doesn't combust on its own, then? How would I know how much to mix it with air to make the rocket work? If I tip the bottle, the H<sub>2</sub> would all float out the top, wouldn't it?

I since room-pressure hydrogen doesn't have very high density, I take it that it would not be 'too' dangerous if I DID get it to ignite, wouldn't it?

<!-- bfesser_edit_tag -->[<a href="u2u.php?action=send&username=bfesser">bfesser</a>: merged sequential posts; subscript]

[Edited on 2.8.13 by bfesser]

Hexavalent - 19-7-2013 at 09:16

Firstly, please don't double post.

Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  
I'm pretty sure boric acid is in the product Terro that kills ants... wait... I looked it up and it was Borax. I don't know if there's a difference. But yeah, it works.


And yes, there is a difference. Boric acid is H3BO4, whereas borax is disodium tetraborate, Na2B4O7.

Moreover, you can convert disodium tetraborate into boric acid by adding a strong acid to a hot solution of the former; the reaction proceeds because the equilibrium shifts to the right due to the formation of a weaker acid.

[Edited on 19-7-2013 by Hexavalent]

chemcam - 19-7-2013 at 09:17

Yes, they are related but there is a difference. Borax is Sodium Tetraborate, a sodium salt of Boric acid.
---
In regards to the second post,
Quote: Originally posted by PickledPackratParalysis  
toilet cleaner 'the Works' with aluminum foil to make an explosion.
You sound very k3wl, try to word your posts a little better find out what specifically is in whatever product you mention. And by the way, they both make H2.
2 Al + 2 HCl → 2 AlCl + H2
2 Al + 2 NaOH + 6 H<sub>2</sub>O → 2 Na[Al(OH)<sub>4</sub>] + 3 H2

[Edited on 7-19-2013 by chemcam]

<!-- bfesser_edit_tag -->[<a href="u2u.php?action=send&username=bfesser">bfesser</a>: subscript/superscript]

[Edited on 2.8.13 by bfesser]

bbartlog - 19-7-2013 at 09:32

Quote: Originally posted by Hexavalent  

And yes, there is a difference. Boric acid is H3BO4,
[Edited on 19-7-2013 by Hexavalent]


H<sub>3</sub>BO<sub>3</sub>

Hexavalent - 19-7-2013 at 09:34

You're right, 'twas a typo.

Endimion17 - 19-7-2013 at 10:10

I love the Royal Institution videos. I remember spending one entire night just watching those lectures. :)

Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
A good way to kill insects without destroying external features of them is by immersing them in a mix of air and SO2. Chlorine is too aggressive and bleaches colors and destroys delicate features (e.g. the very fine dust-like material on the wings of butterflies or the very delicate mesh of dragonflies' wings).

SO2 also bleaches some organic dyes, so I wouldn't rely on that.
The vastly superior compound for almost instant killing is hydrogen cyanide. The insects die very, very quickly, and they don't twitch. They stay in their normal pose and there's no muscle tissue contraction and damage. But HCN is the last resort for an amateur. It's just too poisonous. It's made in situ, by putting few drops of a strong, nonvolatile acid like sulphuric acid, on a crystal of alkali cyanide below the inert bed in the jar and then it's covered. The gas concentration is not high, but sufficient to quickly turn off the "power button" on an insect, and it could kill a careless person indoors.

The usual chemicals used instead of it are acetone, chloroform and ethyl acetate. Also ether, but its volatility and flammability makes it a nonpopular choice. Dilluted chloroform vapours bathed in sunlight will yield phosgene, so that's also unpleasant.
Acetone makes them twitch, so it has limited usage.
Ethyl acetate is known to leave a soft tissue as it doesn't precipitate the proteins appreciably, but you have to keep them inside the jar until you put them in a fixer if you want such effect. If you put them out, they become brittle.
Fixing is best with 70% ethanol if you need the sample for DNA analysis, or 4% formaldehyde if you just want to determine the species.
They also die more slowly inside ethyl acetate so, althought it's just the reflexes and other basic neuromuscular activity, it's kind of painful to watch, especially to unexperienced people and children. The insects just flutter or trash around like crazy and sometimes get damaged.

Quote:
I do not really kill the individual ants, I destroy their 'society'.


That's so delightfully evil on a grand scale. :D

Acidum - 20-7-2013 at 12:05

So, killing butterflies is wrong, and killing ants and even entire ant colonies is ok? Well, then I must be really weird dude... Thinking that caterpillars are pest and ants are useful... Silly me...

Although I like the idea of controlled eradication of entire colony with such simple and ingenious approach (yes, psycho I am), I really think that killing entire ant society is way non necessary and just plain wrong...

PS. Microscale gas chemistry is excellent web site!

woelen - 21-7-2013 at 11:42

After some refinements (see below) the sugar/boric acid method really works. The day before yesterday we had many ants in our garden, much more than the usual amount, but they were moving in all directions and did not show their usual patterns (normally they move along certain tracks). Now, two days later, we hardly have any ants in our garden anymore. No more sand is moved upwards from under the cobble stones. So, I think the coordination indeed is lost totally and they simply walked away, spreading over the area around our garden.

I had to refine the method a little bit to have optimal effect. We have a competitor in our garden, which attracts many ants and hence makes them less interested in my brew. The competitor is formed by a set of sunflowers in our garden and ants like to go up along the stem, all the way to the flowers and absorb the sticky stuff in the heart of the flowers. What I did is take some tissue and wet this with the sugar/boric acid mix and loosely wrap this around the stem of the plants which have the biggest flowers, appr. 10 cm above the soil just above the side-stems of leaves, such that the tissue does not fall towards the ground. Ants moving upwards have to cross this sweet spot and indeed, many ants do not go up anymore and simply remain at the tissue absorbing the sweet liquid and after some time go down again. I made things extra sweet by mixing in a little amount of fruit syrup, such that the liquid not only has a sweet taste, but also has a sweet smell.
My first idea was to wet the flowers themselves a little with a solution of boric acid, but I decided not to do that, because besides the ants also bees, bumblebees and hoverflies are visiting the flowers and I do not want to poison these. With the tissue wrapped around the stem 10 cm above the soil, the only poisoned animals will be the ants.
You have to wet the tissue every day with some drops of water (just make them soft and sticky, not wet through). If they become totally dry, then ants simply walk over and do not stop absorbing the sugar.

I like this method because it does not introduce any nasty stuff in the garden, it only affects ants and not other insects and it is non-toxic for people, pets and birds.

[Edited on 21-7-13 by woelen]

plante1999 - 21-7-2013 at 11:58

"it is non-toxic for people"

Tell that to the (female) pharmacist I bought boric acid from. I had a speech of like 15 minute about its "toxicity" and its "proper" use. Then I had to signe something and she put a note in my medical folder ha ha.

blogfast25 - 21-7-2013 at 13:18

Quote: Originally posted by plante1999  
"it is non-toxic for people"

Tell that to the (female) pharmacist I bought boric acid from. I had a speech of like 15 minute about its "toxicity" and its "proper" use. Then I had to signe something and she put a note in my medical folder ha ha.


Funny thing is, most of these 'pharmacists' in the UK seem to be 15 year old girls in uniform and on a work experience! Working knowledge of chemistry? Basically zero. The closest they've ever been to a qualified chemist is making instant coffee for the senior pharmacist in charge... ;)

Tdep - 21-7-2013 at 23:28

Thank god for that at points though, at least I can charm my way through teenage attendants when buying all the chemicals I can.
An experienced chemist would definitely sense i'm up to something other than the intended use of the products.

sargent1015 - 2-8-2013 at 07:47

Quote: Originally posted by bbartlog  
Quote: Originally posted by Hexavalent  

And yes, there is a difference. Boric acid is H3BO4,
[Edited on 19-7-2013 by Hexavalent]


H<sub>3</sub>BO<sub>3</sub>


Actually, it is more like B(OH)3. It is not an acid in the Arrhenius sense of the term.

B(OH)3 + H2O --> B(OH)4 + H+

It really is a clever reaction when you think about it like that. Formulas like these are... beautiful :)


[Edited on 2-8-2013 by sargent1015]