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Author: Subject: Is potassium chloride useful for any experiments?
gatewaycityca
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Is potassium chloride useful for any experiments?

I wrote earlier about how I'm looking for some simple (and relatively mild and safe) experiments with exothermic reactions. I still don't know very much about chemistry, but I'm learning.

Anyway, in all my searching, I read that the salt that is used to melt ice on roads is calcium chloride, and that it happens with an exothermic reaction. I saw a video on YouTube where someone mixed calcium chloride in a container with water and it started getting hot. (Not boiling hot of course, but significantly hot).

Well, I went to a hardware store to try to get calcium chloride, but the only ice melter they had was potassium chloride. Since I'm a total noob with chemistry experiments, I assumed it would still cause a reaction if it was sold as a de-icer. I bought a big bag of the stuff for around $8. When I got home, I dissolved it in water and nothing happened! Absolutely nothing. No heat whatsoever. It just sat there and looked at me. So now I'm stuck with this big bag of this potassium chloride stuff and I don't know what to do with it. Are there any interesting experiments I could try with it? I would hate to just throw it away. Is there any way I could get it to react with something and do something interesting (I mean, which won't blow up?) BTW, if anyone else can think of safe exothermic reactions, let me know! So far, the only things I've had any luck with are bleach and hydrogen peroxide, and yeast with peroxide. They both get a little hot and don't release anything toxic. But I want something that gets a little bit hotter (and is cheap, if possible). woelen Super Administrator Posts: 6732 Registered: 20-8-2005 Location: Netherlands Member Is Offline Mood: interested I wish I could obtain pure potassium chloride in a hardware store. Where I live, potassium chloride is quite expensive (e.g. EUR 10 per kg or so). Potassium chloride can be used to make potassium chlorate. I have a nice writeup for how to make that on a small scale: http://woelen.homescience.net/science/chem/exps/miniature_ch... Instead of using MMO for the anode, you can use graphite as well, but the end-product then will be less pure. It will be good enough though for pyrotechnical experiments. Be careful with potassium chlorate, it is quite a dangerous chemical when treated carelessly. The experiment of making potassium chlorate is safe, but using potassium chlorate for pyro-related experiments may be dangerous. Please read about the risks before you mix potassium chlorate with other chemicals. The art of wondering makes life worth living... Want to wonder? Look at http://www.oelen.net/science Oscilllator International Hazard Posts: 659 Registered: 8-10-2012 Location: The aqueous layer Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood You can also make potassium chlorate from household bleach, buy boiling it down then adding a solution of potassium chloride to precipitate potassium chlorate. A good guide can be found here: http://youtu.be/JtxQT7aVDeg Igniting a roughly 50/50 mixture of KClO3 and sugar can be fun too. Just be sure to do it outside, and use small quantities (a spoonful of each ought to be fairly safe) Varmint National Hazard Posts: 264 Registered: 30-5-2013 Location: Near Atlanta, GA Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood Potassium chloride is sold in hardware stores as a no sodium alternative for water softeners. Yes, here in the US it costs significantly more than the traditional, I spent$22 on a 40LB bag.

Now it sat there and did nothing? It should have done something, dissolving it in water is surprizingly ENDOTHERMIC. Never once have I mixed a quantity with water without it dewing the outside of the beaker.

Woelen is correct, carbon/graphite anodes make for a particularly difficult product to clean, but do a search for "Clarity" and you should find a post I made regarding a useful shortcut to a carbon free product. My KClO3 is stored in large containers, right at about the 80C saturation point. When I want some to experiment with I drop the appropriate amount in a beaker, boil off the water, and I have very pure KClO3 essentially on tap.

DAS
GoldGuy
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The internet is amazing. iam talking tosomeone whosounds like they are complaining because they were looking for calcium chloride (little worth) and they could only find potassium chloride (extremely useful) boohoo.

Here in Toronto I can only find potassium chloride in the supermarket for about $5 for less than a pound. It is sold as sodium free salt alternative (NoSalt). But it is mixed with carrots and spices so its kinda fucked up to use. Anyway yes it is extremely useful. You can make KNO3 with it by making a solution of Ammonium Nitrate and Potassium Chloride. The ionic switcheroo will leave you with Potassium Nitrate (precipitate) and Ammonium Chloride (in solution). Both Ammonium Chloride and Potassium Nitrate are extremely useful Example: Throughly grind and mix 6g Al or Mg metal with 8.5g NaOH (Lye) and ignite that mixture with a Potassium Nitrate fuse. Guess what your are left with? Pure Sodium metal nuggets (get hard just thinkin about it) Apparently OH has an easier time fusing with Al or MG at higher temperates than it does Sodium. What part of the world do you live in? What is the name brand of the Potassium Chloride ice melter? What store did you get it in? Its a non watched item so these details are ok to scandalize. Youd think with all the ice up here in Canada we would have this readily available but NOOOOO (or do we?) Welcome to the wonderful world of science... gohard [Edited on 11-2-2014 by GoldGuy] Mailinmypocket International Hazard Posts: 1342 Registered: 12-5-2011 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood At the link below, see the product called "natures own". It is pure KCl sold in huge bags. Here is what the chemical looks like, dissolving it can be a pain. Since I almost only use it for chlorate I can get away with dissolving the lumps in boiling water which usually takes no time at all. Otherwise you may want to crush them. This was from Home Depot by the way. http://www.siftocanada.com/en/products-applications/water-co... [Edited on 11-2-2014 by Mailinmypocket] Zyklon-A International Hazard Posts: 1547 Registered: 26-11-2013 Member Is Offline Mood: Fluorine radical My only source of KCl is at walmart where they sell 1 freaking salt shaker (about 90 grams) for$2.00. At least it doesn't have carrots and spices.

Antiswat
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b-but...
graphite is a really good thing for pyrotechnics, unless if you want to make an impact firecracker or something
addition of graphite powder to pyrotechnical compositions shows a significant increase in tolerance of shock / friction
using a 1kg weight and cm's drop height making results such as ''0.67'' = 67cm 1kg dropweight i recall it gave 10-20 cm extra fall
-in short: graphite is not a bad thing

~25 drops = 1mL @dH2O viscocity - STP
Truth is ever growing - but without context theres barely any such.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solubility_table
confused
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so stick 2 graphite rods into a beaker with KCL solution and apply current? would it work without the potassium dichromate? or HCL in the top up solution?
Zyklon-A
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Here is a good video on KClO3 production. He uses a Pt anode but it's the same setup.

If you're using graphite, you only need it for the anode, Ti or Ni works well for a cathode.

[Edited on 11-2-2014 by Zyklonb]

GoldGuy
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Is KNO3 or KClO3 better for making fuses?
TheChemiKid
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KNO3 is safer. It makes much more stable mixtures than KClO3. It can also be heated more safely than KClO3. Here is a good video on making fuses.

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MrHomeScientist
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 Quote: Originally posted by gatewaycityca (Not boiling hot of course, but significantly hot). ... (I mean, which won't blow up?) ... safe exothermic reactions ... They both get a little hot and don't release anything toxic.

If you're afraid of boiling water and worried that everything you do will explode, then chemistry might not be the right hobby for you.

I suppose it's good that you're starting off slow (unlike so many kids that foolishly jump right into energetics), but you need to not worry so much. If you read up on a reaction you'd like to do beforehand, that will help ease your concerns. Just google things like "[reagent 1] [reagent 2] reaction." Contrary to popular belief, not everything in chemistry will instantly kill you or is explosive.

(That being said, of course, you should still take precautions no matter what the experiment - gloves, goggles, etc.)
Brain&Force
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Making potassium chlorate is a great idea. But why not dissolve it in methanol and make some purple flames?

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gatewaycityca
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MrHomeScientist, I'm not "afraid" of boiling water. I only said that because in the video I mentioned, the guy who mixed calcium chloride with water got the water hot, but it wasn't boiling. I was just qualifying my description of what I saw in the video.

Also, I realize that not everything is going to explode. But it's also common sense that some chemicals can react violently if they're mixed. Since I'm new to chemistry, I don't have the knowledge and experience yet to work with chemicals that could react that way. And I don't know yet which ones can. I want to work within my limits. That's why I said I wanted to do an experiment with chemicals that will get hot, but without reacting <i>violently</i>. Nothing that could catch fire, or could release toxic fumes, etc. Since you guys are more experienced, you would be prepared for that possibility and know how to reduce the risks and how to deal with it. But I don't. That's why for right now, I just wanted to be limited to reactions that aren't capable of reacting too dangerously.

You're definitely right that I need to do some more reading. In fact, I've been looking for a good book on basic chemistry.

One of my hobbies is experimenting with high voltage...I've built Tesla Coils, Jacob's Ladders, etc. I've been doing it for years. Some people get scared of it, but I'm not because I understand how electricity works and I take precautions. I respect electricity, but I'm not afraid of it. Some people think that anything electrical can catch fire or explode. Obviously, that isn't true. Yeah, say, if you try to connect a high voltage transformer that supplies 15,000 volts to a capacitor that is only rated for 2kv, it probably would burst. Or if you have a high voltage circuit and have the wires too close, they will arc. But once you understand the principles, you know what to do and what not to do. That's why if someone wanted to experiment with electricity, I would first tell them to work with low voltage...that eliminates the possibility of getting dangerous shocks, starting fires, etc. I'd tell them to understand the basics first, and then to work with low voltage and safe experiments first.

BTW, off-topic, but is anyone else here interested in high voltage?

Metacelsus
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I am. My latest project was a 50 kV flyback driver.

As below, so above.
GoldGuy
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I'm more interested in alternating currents...
gatewaycityca
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Very cool. Somehow, I had a feeling there would be at least a few other people here who were interested in high voltage.

GoldGuy, I work almost exclusively with high voltage alternating currents. There's just nothing like the hum of a transformer! I guess my motto is "If it doesn't hum, glow, arc or spark, I'm not interested!"

subsecret
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In response to the first question, the one regarding calcium chloride, this reagent is quite easy to find in the average Walmart or hardware store. Just look for "Damp-Rid." Not only is it pretty pure calcium chloride, it's also nearly anhydrous (used as a drying agent, of course). It's found in a carton or in a plastic cup, and it's already in flakes, making it good for packing drying tubes and the sort.

While on the topic of drying agents: Save yourselves some trouble and don't distill solvents over finely powdered drying agents. The boiling stones will be buried under the fine powder, causing bumping. Dry first, decant, and then distill. I'm sure that a more experienced member has brought this up, but just as a note...

I, too, like high voltage equipment. I have an NST in my basement, rated for 15kV at 30mA. My school also let me have an old microwave (I kept the MOT, of course). The internal transformer (based on my calculations) produced ~2kV at ~1 amp!!

Fear is what you get when caution wasn't enough.
MrHomeScientist
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gatewaycityca: Point taken. It's great that you want to start off slow, as the hobby can indeed be dangerous if you aren't fully prepared. My apologies if I sounded condescending.
bfesser
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 Quote: Originally posted by gatewaycityca Is potassium chloride useful for any experiments? . . . Are there any interesting experiments I could try with it?
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium-40" target="_blank">Potassium-40 (<sup>40</sup>K)</a> <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />