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Author: Subject: What is the most ignorant thing you have ever done while conducting an experiment?
neutrino
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[*] posted on 7-4-2005 at 12:57


Sorry, I was thinking H<sub>2</sub>S for some reason.
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[*] posted on 15-4-2005 at 03:21


When I was a good few years younger than I am now, I did my fair share of dodgy experimentation, I used to enjoy using a mixture of equal proportions of sodium chlorate and sulfur piled up on hte ground, to blow up large propane cylinders, not knowing not to mix chlorates with sulfur at the time, I remember that I kept a 10 kilogram bucket of ready-mixed NaClO3/S under my bed:o

I am quite lucky that it didn't go off on me when I was sleeping really, by some act of a higher power, it didn't ever ignite of its own accord, I shudder to think now, how close I came to a nasty accident.

I once also kept a bottle of Mn2O7 in my lab, not knowing quite how nasty it was, Read up on the web about its properties, searching for things to do with it, then promptly disposed of it after learning it was likely to explode in a malodorous cloud of ozone at a moments notice.

The most unpleasant thing that happened to me, a year or so ago, was trying to directly chlorinate acetone in a shot glass, of course, it flash boiled, spraying my lab with about 200ml of chloroacetone in varying stages of chlorination, sending me scurrying out of the lab with hands over my face and generally cursing and swearing about the stinging in my eyes.




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chloric1
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shocked.gif posted on 15-4-2005 at 09:51
OMG


The chloracetone thing sounds really painful. But the chlorate/sulfur cocktail is definately on my scary list. Especially 10 KG!!:o:o



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[*] posted on 4-6-2005 at 07:57


Just a few days ago, while letting a solution of acetone and nitrocellulose dry in a glass jar, I lit the gasses inside and then put my hand over it to put it out. It would have been fine (I later did it many times and it was fun), but I was startled by the sudden drop in pressure inside the jar, and I waved my hand and broke the jar on the floor, along with the acetone jelly.

That's not the most ignorant or stupid thing I've done, but it's the most recent.
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[*] posted on 4-6-2005 at 10:37


I prepared a pyro composition consisting of a stoich ammount of 2,5micron zinc mixed with sulfur. It was about 15 grams. Then I lit it by a match while my face was only about 35cm away (one foot)



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Pyridinium
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[*] posted on 4-6-2005 at 12:22


As a teenager I re-discovered an unstable yellow liquid formed by two elements.

I also discovered you should never, ever let it touch wood ashes.

Ears rang for several hours. Lucky that's all that happened...

Edited for brevity: I have a couple other 'ignorant' stories too, but this one should be enough.

Edited to remove a couple details for the sake of Kew|s' safety who might be reading this.

[Edited on 5-6-2005 by Pyridinium]
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[*] posted on 4-6-2005 at 22:23


I think drawing attention to it like that in itself makes you just as kewl.
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neutrino
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[*] posted on 5-6-2005 at 04:02


What's wrong with confessions? He seems to be refomed.
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[*] posted on 5-6-2005 at 07:02


Neutrino: damn right. After a couple experiments with it I moved on to much safer things.

Luminal: I wouldn't quite say that. After all, I didn't go "d00d when 1 waz |1k3 15 I herd u cud m1x A w1th B and it would det*n8!!!! So 1 D1D i+!!!!!"

Maybe the wording was bad in my post but I think you get the idea.

Teenage years are fraught with k3w1.

Edit: ah why not, here's another story... years back I knew a grad student who, when she was a couple years younger, was working in her company's lab and decided to have some fun. It seems she forgot- some materials vigorously decompose H2O2. And it wasn't 3%, I'm guessing.

The gas was evolved so rapidly that it blew the top off the thermos she put it in, making a hole in the drop ceiling.

Not sure how she explained that one away to her boss.

Now that... THAT was k3w1.


[Edited on 5-6-2005 by Pyridinium]
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[*] posted on 5-6-2005 at 13:35


The first ever thing Itried to make was AP. (back when the kewl in me still had a say in things). I mixed 3% H2O2 with a lot of 10% muriatic acid and a splash of acetone. A week in the fridge yielded nothing so I tried again with something stronger... 100mL acetone, 25mL 30% HCl and 60mL 35% H2O2. I stirred it with a wooden spoon (yesyes :P) and then put in in the fridge and forgot it. After a week I had 100g of AP :S I ignited a gramme of it and got pretty freaked out by the thought that I had 99g more of that stuff. I took the glass jar to the river and dumped most of it. 30g of it were poured into a 1m deep hole in the ground and ignited. Wow. I haven't made AP since it scares me. I figured I'd be better of concentrating on safer chemistry. A nice byproduct of all this being that I'm now so interested in chemistry that I'm going to study it in University :D

[Edited on 5/6/2005 by Nerro]




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Pyridinium
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[*] posted on 5-6-2005 at 16:25


Quote:
Originally posted by Nerro
I haven't made AP since


That stuff is a horror show from what I've read. Never tried making it myself (never plan to either!!).

Hey, glad to hear it got you interested in professional chem though.

Chemistry is so interesting... it's just too bad some of those atoms don't like to hold hands.

Edit: I almost overlooked a gem on here:
"i was once distilling benzyl chloride not long started heating and forgot to put in the boiling stones in didn't think it was as hot as it was when i dropped the boiling stones in i blew the benzyl chloride
right out out one of the necks."

... I did the same ignorant thing a long time ago. With hot HCl. Bad, bad mess.

[Edited on 6-6-2005 by Pyridinium]
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[*] posted on 23-6-2005 at 18:01


I'll add one to the list. Today I was etching with conc HF solution. I wear the typical 2 layers of gloves, lab coat, chemical goggles etc. My outermost layer of gloves are the big pvc ones. in my case they are a little big on my fingers, so they flop around a little.

Ok, so I should mention that I was wearing shorts, exposing my legs below the lab coat. My gloves had touched the HF solution a few times today. I was working and felt some random wetness on my leg. I thought maybe I could have flicked a loose glove end and spattered some solution on my leg. Paranoia goes to work. I quickly check the area for wet spot and feel for wetness by rubbing my fingers against it, and looking at my fingers to see if its wet. Duh! How ignorant can you be, to forget your wearing these big black smelly gloves, which can cross contaminate things... like acid to your skin. Ugh. So then I spent the next 10 seconds looking for the Calcium glut. cream, which someone had considerately put in a hard to reach place. Since 10 sec is really too long, I am really hoping that, while I was working, the gloves would have been rinsed enough times that I am not going to have a buildup of CaF in my blood stream.

I guess the moral of the story is... dont wear shorts when working with poisonous liquids?
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[*] posted on 28-8-2005 at 14:36


I hope I don't get lynched for digging up old threads, but I have to add my own chemical disasters here.

Most of them are your typical run-of-the-mill idiocy, such as having condenser hoses blow loose at the flanges and fountain water all over one's experiment, but I have done a few ignorant things.

I had the temperature of a pentyl acetate distillation reach 300 degrees once. I'm not sure how it happened, but I was convinced that I'd hit the flash point of the stuff and blow the whole thing, until I realized that I was reading the thermometer's Fahrenheit side. :(

Also, never leave experiments unattended. This, of course, is something we all learn in junior high or the like, yet we all do it eventually. And something always goes bad. Like my 4-methylcyclohexanol dehydration. I set up some apparatus, dumped in a mixture of concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid, and heated the daylights out of it, hoping to distill out 4-methylcyclohexene. Of course, in the mean time, I left the reaction to go to the bathroom and (I believe) for a walk. I came back to a stinky, acrid, smoking black mess which smelled somewhere between cow manure and a burnt fan belt.

The people in my organic synthesis labs used to do some pretty dumb things. Because they wanted to get out of the lab as fast as possible, their attempts at "experiments" were positively lackadaisical. Thus, all sorts of glassware breakage and mercury spills occurred, and all numerations of disgusting concoctions were formed. Common sense also went straight out the proverbial window.

For example, several labmates decided it would be a good idea to clean out a packed silica gel column by hooking it up to a compressed air hose. It made an uproarious noise, but an incredible mess.

A friend of mine managed to somehow screw up one of the student NMRs by getting a tube stuck in one of the probes. Instead of ejecting the thing out the rest of the way or calling for help, he reached in and *yanked* it out of the probe, snapping it off inside the machine. The NMR supervisor was NOT happy about that one, but my friend considered it a great accomplishment, even bragging about it the next day!
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[*] posted on 28-8-2005 at 15:24


This is one of my relatively innocent mishaps in the lab:

Originaly posted on 14-8-2005 at 06:23 PM by Lambda: These damn warts !:
https://sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=4311&...

EtherBunny, it is interesting to read about mishaps in the laboratory, for these adventures can be very informative, and above all, hopefully prevent the same or even worse from happening to others.

About Fahrenheit:

They should make a statue of this man, put in on a stand, and let it be. This temperature scale should be abolished from science, for it creates to much confusion as you now know. Procedure translations, can be dangerously misconducted due to all this confusion.

About the bathroom:

Generally speaking, my experiments cause so much excitement, that I make it a rule to first viste the bathroom before any labwork is conducted, unless I want to end up on a "wet spot".

[Edited on 29-8-2005 by Lambda]
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[*] posted on 28-8-2005 at 18:42


Not strictly chemistry as much as pyrotechnic, but nevertheless I have had a mishap (*cough* or two...) with the famous KNO3 and sugar smoke mix...

I uh... have a full photo album of both accidents, and what not but pictures havent been part of this thread thus far...

I dont know if that counts as kewl or just stupid (both?) but aside from that I havent done too much... or any "kewl" stuff I dont think... Ive put firecrackers in potatos and threw em like grenades... And potato guns, oh potato guns...

I can say I have been awfully close to some bad things that were about to happen, but somehow or another everything settled down...




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[*] posted on 30-8-2005 at 16:25


Got a new screw up for y'all. I was about to attempt a prep of chloropicrin from silver fulminate and chlorine gas as it mentions in the chloropicrin file on the FTP. I add around .1 to .2 g of silver fulminate under water to a large testtube, a bit more water is added. So I go to place the glass tube to bubble the chlorine in, I (stupidly) drop it right down the test tube and *BANG* the bottom of the testtube is blown to bits and glass flys around the lab. Luckily I was holding the top of the testtube which did not even crack. I am just glad I was not holding it by the bottom of the test tube:o
I worry about how loud this was, as I was working right next to an open window. :(




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[*] posted on 30-8-2005 at 16:40


Rogue chemist, I avoid Silver fulminate like the plague. This stuff is just to sensitive, appart from the fact that crystalisation during preperation can also detonate. I would hate to imagin, what might have happend if your mother batch went "bang". Probably it wasn't a pissy 0.2 grams batch, no,.... much and much more. :o

[Edited on 31-8-2005 by Lambda]
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[*] posted on 30-8-2005 at 17:17


Well the mother batch was around 0.6g, and it was 3 months old so that could have increased sensitivity. As dangerous as it is, I like it. It amazes people when a barely visible soggy speck of it when lit makes an ear ringing bang.

Crysalization during prep can cause it to det? Wow...really surprises me now how much I got away with then when first preparing it years ago in my youth, what I did getting the ethanol and acidic silver nitrate solution to react....:o




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[*] posted on 30-8-2005 at 17:19


Just this morning, well, yesterday, having not slept for 2 days, I attempted a quick small-scale synthesis of phosphorus iodides, and heated 10g each of red P and I2 together in a boiling tube, started to fume a bit, but all went fairly cleanly.

The cleanup was another matter entirely, in my daftarsed sleep-deprived state, I quenched with water, then added 45% H2O2 to clean the test tube, not thinking that the H2O2 is immediately going to oxidise the formed HI to I2.

I was holding the tube, over the sink in a tiny 2x3 meter bathroom, it started bubbling, so I put it into the sink, only for it to quickly boil, and start spraying out a dirty great bright purple plume of I2, EVERYWHERE along my bathroom, I scraped most of the I2 that sublimed itself on the cold sink and saved it, then went for my gas mask to do a quick cleanup.

Made possibly the worst mistake yet, and tried cleaning it with ammonia:D

It DID decolorise the ugly orange stains on the tiles, grouting and well, everything else, but I came to my senses half way through it, soaked everything with water, and left.

Luckily enough, no explosions so far, although I did learn that indoor phosphorus halide synths, sleep deprivation and nitrogen triiodide do NOT mix:o




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[*] posted on 30-8-2005 at 19:43


Quote:
Originally posted by Reverend Necroticus Rex
and tried cleaning it with ammonia:D


Ohh, that's a good one. LOL!

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[*] posted on 31-8-2005 at 03:43


Quote:
Originally posted by Reverend Necroticus Rex
Made possibly the worst mistake yet, and tried cleaning it with ammonia:D


Thats why we must to know how to make poisons or explosives. If you did not knew how nitrogen triiodide is made you probably had gone further.

Uncompatiblities data as these are given in MSDS are not very usefull: soda and acids are also incompatible no matter that soda is often best way to cope with acid spills.

My worst mistake was probably boiling solution of potassium dichromate and dilute sulfuric acid on oil bath without boiling stones. Liguid started to bump at some point (as low pH liquids often too) and bit of solution flew into the oil.

Hotplate turned to volcano of smoke and all the room was sprayed with mixture of oil, acid and 6-valent chromium.

[Edited on 31-8-2005 by chromium]
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[*] posted on 31-8-2005 at 09:14
Breath deeply


hexavalent chrome mist i9n the air!?! Oh my GOD!:o:o No seriously that is bad news. I need to buy some potassium hydroxide and make some strontium chloride from the pottery supply's carbonate. I have a real treat for you guys when I can do my "homemade dichromate synthesis". I will post more for you when I start my investigations. I will have to be extremely carefull too.:o



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[*] posted on 6-9-2005 at 18:51
Mishaps, mayhem, and blunders in the lab


I'm curious to know from other science-heads about lab activities that went awry, things that maybe inspired heart attacks or strokes (figuritively speaking) to the practicing chemist at the time but are funny to look back on...
I have two that I'm not proud of, but glad I survived to tell the tales, since no one I know personally would or should care at all. Would you like me to recount them? Great! Here they are...
Was attempting anthranilic acid from scratch via n-acetyl-anthranilic acid, which required mechanical stirring. Since I am not equipped with this means, I decided to shake the flask by hand for the duration of the reaction. I had welding gloves, padded clothing, a face shield and goggles on. The flask got so hot, all the water vapour was exiting the neck extremely fast, and scaring the shit out of me. It was bubbling angrily. Of course, this was done outside, one because it smells so bad, and two, I didn't know how it would go. I didn't feel it would explode, so I kept shaking it. (dumbass!). I thought if I set it down, bad things would happen, so I kept at it. Once the water was exhausted, the rxn ceased and failed, and I began to breathe again.
The other idiotic thing I did, was heat VMP Naphtha in an open beaker on an old cheap hotplate indoors, which evidently sparks periodically. It suddenly burst into flame, sending a nice 2 foot column of jet-like flame towards the ceiling. I could see that it wasn't going to spread any time soon, so I watched and waited, trying to figure out what to do. I had a fire extinguisher handy, but didn't want to make a huge mess if I didn't have to. I just put a glass funnel over the beaker and it went out immediatley. Once my nerves calmed, I noticed the pleasant odour of burnt hydrocarbons throughout my house. I told my wife that I was soldering with my blowtorch and burnt some plastic. I got away with it this time...
These are two things that go on my 'don't do that again, asshole' list. What's on yours?




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[*] posted on 6-9-2005 at 20:15


http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=3698

Hmm.. things that stunk up the house? One day I was grinding some slag, from an aluminum melt (so any impurities are well reduced). Of course it smelled strongly, but I kept grinding it anyway. Afterwards, Mom said the whole house smells like (farts/garlicy/who knows!)... I guess reduced sulfates, phosphates, carbides, and so on are present in that stuff.

I don't know what calcium carbide smells like, but it's probably like that, FWIW.

That's not really the worst I've done, it just smells bad.

Tim

[Edited on 9-7-2005 by 12AX7]




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[*] posted on 7-9-2005 at 15:15


Well any calcium carbide present would have reacted with the water to give you some nice acetylene which reeks of garlic :-)
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