Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Chemistry in General » Any simple alternatives to vacuum pumps? Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues

Author: Subject: Any simple alternatives to vacuum pumps?
mycotheologist
Hazard to Others

Posts: 154
Registered: 16-3-2012
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Any simple alternatives to vacuum pumps?

I have an immediate need to do some vacuum filtrations, I have a vacuum flask + Hirsch funnel but I don't have a vacuum source. Are there any tricks for providing a bit of vacuum with household items? I only need to hold the vacuum long enough to filter my product and do one or two quick washes.
garage chemist
chemical wizard

Posts: 1803
Registered: 16-8-2004
Location: Germany
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

For several years, I have done all my filtrations and vacuum distillations with an aspirator. It's the best vacuum pump for the amateur because it isn't ruined by vapors and fumes.

www.versuchschemie.de
Das aktivste deutsche Chemieforum!
Lambda-Eyde
International Hazard

Posts: 856
Registered: 20-11-2008
Location: Norway
Member Is Offline

Mood: Cleaved

 Quote: Originally posted by garage chemist For several years, I have done all my filtrations and vacuum distillations with an aspirator. It's the best vacuum pump for the amateur because it isn't ruined by vapors and fumes.

...And it's cheap! A 10€ plastic aspirator sure beats a 200€ pump that needs constant attention, cleaning and maintenance. I am however jealous of UC's teflon diaphragm pump...

This just in: 95,5 % of the world population lives outside the USA
You should really listen to ABBA
mycotheologist
Hazard to Others

Posts: 154
Registered: 16-3-2012
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Thanks a lot, I didn't know about these cheap aspirators until I saw your one in your picture Lambda-Eyde. Just need to figure out where to get one now. Are they only used in labs or do they have mundane uses? In other words do I have to order it from a lab supplier or can I find one at a plumbing shop etc.?

EDIT: I can only find lab supply sites selling them so I'm guessing I have to just order it. This ones cheap:
http://www.justplastics.co.uk/product.php?id=3795
but they don't say what pressure it provides. They say its autoclavable, I have no idea why someone would need to autoclave one of these things.

EDIT2: Take a look at that justplastics site, they sell plastic versions of all kinds of things like Buchner funnels, sep. funnels and vacuum flasks. I wonder why they don't make plastic quickfit apparatus. For example, a HDPE distillation kit would be useful for distilling plenty of low BP liquids. Some of their cheap instruments are made of polymethylpentene, I don't know what chemical resistance properties its used in cookware and autoclavable tools so it must have good thermal resistance.

[Edited on 8-12-2012 by mycotheologist]
smaerd
International Hazard

Posts: 1262
Registered: 23-1-2010
Member Is Offline

Mood: hmm...

I'm very weary of plastic laboratory apparatus and always go for glass when possible. Just because you can boil/heat something once in a plastic flask doesn't mean it will really hold up over time. Especially when using a variety of solvents. I think a lot of the idea behind plastic equipment is it is disposable.

Lambda-Eyde
International Hazard

Posts: 856
Registered: 20-11-2008
Location: Norway
Member Is Offline

Mood: Cleaved

 Quote: Originally posted by mycotheologist Thanks a lot, I didn't know about these cheap aspirators until I saw your one in your picture Lambda-Eyde. Just need to figure out where to get one now. Are they only used in labs or do they have mundane uses? In other words do I have to order it from a lab supplier or can I find one at a plumbing shop etc.?

I can't think of any uses for an aspirator outside of a laboratory. Check out eBay (shipping small items from the states isn't very expensive).

 Quote: Originally posted by mycotheologist EDIT: I can only find lab supply sites selling them so I'm guessing I have to just order it. This ones cheap: http://www.justplastics.co.uk/product.php?id=3795 but they don't say what pressure it provides.

That one looks identical to the one I have, I'll say go for it. Plastic aspirators are much better than metal or glass ones IMO. Metal corrodes, and glass breaks...

 Quote: Originally posted by mycotheologist EDIT2: Take a look at that justplastics site, they sell plastic versions of all kinds of things like Buchner funnels, sep. funnels and vacuum flasks.

If you mainly do aqueous inorganic chemistry, then a plastic büchner funnel might be just the thing for you. Steer clear of the other stuff. Glass is superior in almost every way, except that it's prone to breaking and doesn't like F<sup>-</sup> very much. But that's it. Those sep funnels are even more expensive than glass ones.

 Quote: Originally posted by mycotheologist I wonder why they don't make plastic quickfit apparatus. For example, a HDPE distillation kit would be useful for distilling plenty of low BP liquids.

Oh, but they do. The reason they're not popular is because glass is much cheaper and more convenient. Could you imagine distilling DCM in a plastic apparatus? The only reason such apparatus exists is for niche uses, such as distilling HF or other insane stuff like that.

 Quote: Originally posted by mycotheologist Some of their cheap instruments are made of polymethylpentene, I don't know what chemical resistance properties its used in cookware and autoclavable tools so it must have good thermal resistance.

PMP, or TPX is a crystal clear plastic with good chemical and thermal resistance and offers a nice alternative to glass, but again, if you ever decide to take up organic chemistry you don't want to constantly worry about chemical resistance.

 Quote: Originally posted by smaerd I'm very weary of plastic laboratory apparatus and always go for glass when possible. Just because you can boil/heat something once in a plastic flask doesn't mean it will really hold up over time. Especially when using a variety of solvents. I think a lot of the idea behind plastic equipment is it is disposable.

I mostly agree, but the main argument for plastic labware is the niche uses as already mentioned.

This just in: 95,5 % of the world population lives outside the USA
You should really listen to ABBA
chemrox
International Hazard

Posts: 2953
Registered: 18-1-2007
Location: UTM
Member Is Offline

Mood: LaGrangian

I found a glass aspirator on ebay that I had seen in a catalog once. I wish I could find the manufacturer name. This little item pulls 1 < 10 mm.

"When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of)
Endimion17
International Hazard

Posts: 1468
Registered: 17-7-2011
Location: shores of a solar sea
Member Is Offline

Mood: speeding through time at the rate of 1 second per second

Buy a cheap plastic hand vacuum pump, such as the ones for sucking the air out of those bags people put clothes in, to save space in wardrobes.
Buy a large (>10 L) glass container and some aquarium stopcocks and pipes. The idea is to suck out the air as much as possible and to use the container as a "buffer" for vacuum you can occasionally "power up" with your pump.
I use such system for vacuum filtration.
Aspirators are great, but they do waste a lot of water.

lolcat
Harmless

Posts: 10
Registered: 24-11-2012
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

how strong should the water flow be for an aspirator? My thoughts are either to buy an aquarium pump, like one I use to pump cold water through my condenser, although I don't think that will give much vacuum. Else I am thinking of buying a 10 gallon bucket from home depot and attaching a nozzle at the bottom that will feed into the aspirator, I would think that that would give greater vacuum than the small aquarium pump.
S.C. Wack
bibliomaster

Posts: 2419
Registered: 7-5-2004
Location: Cornworld, Central USA
Member Is Offline

Mood: Enhanced

 Quote: Originally posted by Endimion17 Buy a cheap plastic hand vacuum pump

Do not do this. They are worthless unless you are evacuating test tubes. Instead, modify a modifiable version of an obscure item known as "bicycle tire pump". Considerably more capacity; not made of plastic.

"You're going to be all right, kid...Everything's under control." Yossarian, to Snowden
Endimion17
International Hazard

Posts: 1468
Registered: 17-7-2011
Location: shores of a solar sea
Member Is Offline

Mood: speeding through time at the rate of 1 second per second

 Quote: Originally posted by S.C. Wack Do not do this. They are worthless unless you are evacuating test tubes. Instead, modify a modifiable version of an obscure item known as "bicycle tire pump". Considerably more capacity; not made of plastic. Or buy an advanced version for the same price: http://www.sciencelabsupplies.com/Hand_Pressure_and_Vacuum_P...

That's why large "buffer" containers are for. We're not talking about very low pressures here. It's about a steady supply of partial vacuum.

Bicycle tire pumps with inverted pistons are something that can be quite lousy, too. I'd go above 25$. However, the pump in your link seems quite durable. lolcat Harmless Posts: 10 Registered: 24-11-2012 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood how do you run water through your aspirator? Is it connected directly to a faucet, or is it connected to a pump?  Quote: Originally posted by garage chemist For several years, I have done all my filtrations and vacuum distillations with an aspirator. It's the best vacuum pump for the amateur because it isn't ruined by vapors and fumes. mycotheologist Hazard to Others Posts: 154 Registered: 16-3-2012 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood  Quote: Originally posted by lolcat how strong should the water flow be for an aspirator? My thoughts are either to buy an aquarium pump, like one I use to pump cold water through my condenser, although I don't think that will give much vacuum. Else I am thinking of buying a 10 gallon bucket from home depot and attaching a nozzle at the bottom that will feed into the aspirator, I would think that that would give greater vacuum than the small aquarium pump. I have one but the water flow is really weak. The 10 gallon bucket is a good idea. To increase the water flow rate, you could use a plate (It'll have to be almost the same diameter as the bucket) to make a piston, you just float the plate on the surface of the water then put a heavy weight like a cinder block on the plate. This is what I'm gonna do, thanks for the idea. I'm gonna use one of those big paint buckets and make a really small opening (about 1/4 inch) and force some 1/4 inch braided PVC hose through it and use window sealer caulk or something to seal it in place. That would be easier to install than a nozzle I'd say. I don't know what to use as the plate yet. Maybe I'll cut the sides off the lid of the paint bucket. Whats cool about this idea is your using your own energy (the energy required to lift the weight) to create the vacuum source, as opposed to relying on electricity or water pressure from the tap. [Edited on 11-12-2012 by mycotheologist] atomicfire Harmless Posts: 37 Registered: 7-2-2011 Member Is Offline Mood: shaprening my molecular scissors I use the compressor from an old mini fridge. I had a local heating and cooling place take the coolant out and this thing works to get some decent vacuum for simple distillations. I have used a self recirculating water aspirator in the past. I found an old water feature pump (like for outdoor things) and used it to pump water around in a closed environment and through the aspirator. I didn't get much vacuum though, probably because the pump wasn't very big. ban DHMO Houngan Harmless Posts: 16 Registered: 19-1-2012 Location: Space Member Is Offline Mood: Regioregular Aquarium Pump I modified a aquarium air bubbler pump to suck instead of blow. I bought it online for about$15 and used a little "Knead It" TM so the vanes were on the opposite side of the holes. I can get 100 mm Hg of vacuum from it. If you want I can post a picture.

The spice must flow.
virgilius1979
Harmless

Posts: 37
Registered: 30-9-2011
Member Is Offline

Mood: curious

Could distillation glassware brake due to vacuum inside ? I have some 1000 and 500ml flasks and I wonder if they are able to withstand a 50 micron vacuum.
SM2
National Hazard

Posts: 359
Registered: 8-5-2012
Location: the Irish Springs
Member Is Offline

Mood: Affect

if your really desperate, you can have a poor man's aspirator as part of a water-bed refill kit.
GammaFunction
Hazard to Self

Posts: 78
Registered: 28-1-2013
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

As a McGyver'ish idea, could you take a large flask with a stopcock, boil water in it to fill it with water vapor and displace the air, then close the stopcock and let it cool, bringing internal pressure down to the vapor pressure of water. Then connect the other end of stopcock to filter flask and open. Like this video.

Using a pressure cooker, one could make a pretty big reservoir of vacuum.

Another McGyver trick would be this siphon.

edit: with the water vapor idea, maybe you could use the filter funnel as its own source of vacuum by setting it up with a bit of water in the bottom, heating it to fill it with water vapor, and then pinching a rubber tube attached to the flask's vacuum port as you shut off the heat. The risk is subjecting the funnel contents to some heat and steam.

[Edited on 5-3-2013 by GammaFunction]
violet sin
International Hazard

Posts: 1396
Registered: 2-9-2012
Location: Back yard staring at stars
Member Is Offline

Mood: Good

if your gonna go full McGyver: 1 small tupperware, 1 aquarium pump, 1 nylon hose barb, a few feet of hose and some epoxy. could you not cut 3 holes in a small Tupperware container. use one for for a hose barb on the outside that goes to nothing inside. use one for a thru hole from the aquarium pump to outside, and use the last one for the power cord of the pump. idea is the pump inside the container evacuates to the outside freely. but with all the air going out, some has enter the system. your lonely hose barb becomes a vacuum source of questionable power.

basically changing the dynamic by providing an extra barrier. pump becomes vacuum. this is likely a lousy idea but I will try it this evening any way. 2 or 3 spares from our fish so why not. I know that the pump will be enveloped in any vapors.

likewise you could use a threaded pvc pipe as a filter by putting the ppt/sol inside and blow in air also after sealed. forcing water out, through a filter paper over a few holes in the bottom cap. really not pretty ideas but for some one who has little funding it may prove useful.

if either works well with a crappy 15\$ aquarium air pump I would be quite pleased and share my results. but it may ultimately turn out to be nothing more than a couple crappy ideas to wipe from the notebook.
Organikum
resurrected

Posts: 2284
Registered: 12-10-2002
Location: Europe
Member Is Offline

Mood: lonely

This aspirator you looked out is very well suited for your needs, I have the same and used it for quite some time, no problems. I now use a HAAKE aspirator which I got for very cheap what was luck at this is a rather high end item normally out of my reach. For higher vacuum I use a very cheap one-stage rotary vane, chinese what else, bought at Ebay. Although this pump has no ballast vent it also works without problems and by using a simple Dimmer (chinese, Ebay you guess ) I can control speed (and noise) from 100% to about 50%. Using the aspirator as a forepump inline before the rotary vane the performance of a two-stage rotary vane is available satisfying all my needs and more. Not bad for less then 70€.

So I say go for the plastic pump, price is very well too, I paid more for mine (plastic one) times ago.

/ORG
blogfast25
Thought-provoking Teacher

Posts: 10340
Registered: 3-2-2008
Location: Old Blighty
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

I've got no running water in my lab (I use containers and a defunct water cooler as 'running water', and a big bucket as 'sink') and recently bought a mini-vacuum pump on eBay UK (advertised as "- 20" Hg", which isn't very low). It works well for vacuum assisted filtration but you need a good seal between the Buchner and the flask. About £30, including power supply. A bit noisy for my liking, though.

[Edited on 5-3-2013 by blogfast25]

jsc
Hazard to Self

Posts: 65
Registered: 16-3-2011
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Two words: MITY VAC !!!!
blogfast25
Thought-provoking Teacher

Posts: 10340
Registered: 3-2-2008
Location: Old Blighty
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

 Quote: Originally posted by jsc Two words: MITY VAC !!!!

'Splain?

watson.fawkes
International Hazard

Posts: 2793
Registered: 16-8-2008
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

 Quote: Originally posted by blogfast25 'Splain?
It's actually one word: Mityvac&reg;.
blogfast25
Thought-provoking Teacher

Posts: 10340
Registered: 3-2-2008
Location: Old Blighty
Member Is Offline

Mood: No Mood

Hmmm... not a particularly great way of creating vacuum, if you need some decent L/min capacity...

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Chemistry in General » Any simple alternatives to vacuum pumps? Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues