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Author: Subject: Vacuum Distillation Confusion
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[*] posted on 5-10-2012 at 06:28

if you're distilling acids under vacuum using a rotary vane pump made of tool steel (ie not teflon), in addition to the cold trap a sodium hydroxide trap should be used, in the order such as pump---NaOH trap----coldtrap----manifold-----system.
i have found that the most effective way of constructing such a trap is simply to fill a glass canister with large uniform naOH pellets made in the following way.
Heat a volume of NaOH to 320C in a porcelain dish of sorts that has some sort of pouring lip. when uniformly hot and dehydrated, gently pour the caustic into a large chilled polypropylene beaker of dry toluene or xylene placed on the floor from bench height. pour off the non-polar and dry the pellets in a dessicator under vacuum. the pellets thus produced are hard, uniform and pack well, but be careful to use them only for the acid distillations/filtrations, hell can unfold should you not monitor the trap and replace/renew it as needed.

A poorer cousin to this method involves rolling large glass marbles in molten caustic and using these in the trap.
a rich aunt to this method involves a teflon pump and no trap.

molten caustic will leave your skin devasted, your eyes useless and your penis pierced, don't use molten caustic whilst naked, or in anyway not fully clothed and protected. seems a silly disclaimer but dick cheney shot his hunting buddy in the face so i guess humans need sometimes to be told simple things (such as 'don't shoot your hunting buddy in the face as it will injure them' or 'wear suitable protection when handling molten caustic')

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