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Author: Subject: How to dissolve wood?
monolithic
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 14:32
How to dissolve wood?


Long story short, I'm doing essential oil extraction of wood. There's a piece of wood stuck in my round bottom flask - I guess it swelled up during the steam distillation process. It almost fits through the neck of the flask but gets stuck, and I can't break it up or pull it out. I'm currently letting it soak in hot (50 C) saturated NaOH with stirring. It doesn't seem to be doing much. Any other ideas?
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 14:46


I'd try 10% bleach for a few days of soaking.

You could put the dry flask in an oven at 200 to 250C and try to carbonize it..

Concentrated H2SO4 might break it down.




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monolithic
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 14:54


Good ideas, thanks for the quick response. I think I'll try H2SO4 first, since I have some drain cleaner sitting around.
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 15:05


I’d suggest putting it in an oven and letting it dry out. If it swells in water, then without water it shrinks again...?



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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 15:06


Burn it?
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 17:07


i dont think heating that hot is better than H2SO4. a bunch of organics like tar will stick to the flask. good luck in removing that unless you have piranha soln.



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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 17:11


Copper(II) hydroxide dissolve in concentrated ammonia will dissolve cellulose- it might help break up the wood.



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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 17:49


Quote: Originally posted by DraconicAcid  
Copper(II) hydroxide dissolve in concentrated ammonia will dissolve cellulose- it might help break up the wood.

Ding ding ding! This is the original rayon process. It isn't used anymore because avoiding copper contamination of effluent is hard -- Cu(NH3)22+ is very stable and its salts are highly soluble.

There are also ionic liquids that can be used for dissolving cellulose. The anion is usually acetate, since it is a good H-bond acceptor. Cations are often imidazolium, though morpholinium, amidinium and choline have been used. Choline acetate in particular is accessible to the amateur, as is the DES choline chloride-urea. See:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/chem.2011032...




[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
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[*] posted on 1-7-2019 at 18:13


Thank you everyone for the interesting ideas. Some hot H2SO4 drain cleaner did the trick. :)
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[*] posted on 7-7-2019 at 07:44


Glad to hear. Sulfuric acid works best I see.



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[*] posted on 7-7-2019 at 16:09


Wood is disintegrated in pulp mills using aqueous NaOH/Na2S (Kraft process) at about 180°C for 3 hrs under pressure. This dissolves the lignin that binds the cellulose fibers together.

I would try heating it in aqueous NaOH (~25%) as hot as possible for a few hours.




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