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Author: Subject: Separation of paraffin wax
beeludwig
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 03:44
Separation of paraffin wax


Paraffin wax is just a mixture of long chain aliphatic carbons right?

Would it be possible to separate them based on their different melting points? Or are the different components too close together in melting point to effectively separate this way?
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 04:11


Melting point, no. How on earth is a long chain molecule that reaches melting temperature going to escape the bulk of material that is still solid.
Boiling point, maybe. Now you are in the realm of fractional distillation. I am not sure how easily you can fraction something like paraffin wax, but then, I have never tried.

Good luck.




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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 07:37


Fractional distillation's not going to work much better than melting point.
You are beyond the realm of fractional distillation, and into the realm of chromatography.

https://www.agilent.com/cs/library/applications/A00773.pdf

And even this isn't that good at separating all the components.

You might get some sort of fractionation by crystallisation.

[Edited on 28-5-19 by unionised]
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beeludwig
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 10:37


I see what you guys mean. Do you think natural waxes, bee's wax etc, would be any easier to separate? or is that still in the fractional distillation/gas chromatography land.
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 11:21


Beeswax is not paraffin, it's a different animal chemically. But I don't see why would it be easier to separate its components physically.

Wouldn't it be easier to synthetize a well-defined paraffin molecule by the known methods? Of course it would be more expensive than starting from cheap paraffin, but at least you could be sure what you have is chemically pure in the end.

What is the purpose of this all, besides brainstorming?

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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 11:51


Well... at this point it’s 99% brainstorm. It’s not exactly a linear process. So originally here’s what happened. I requisition some well defined fatty acids at various carbon lengths. The purpose of which would be to do a really nice little lab with my chem students about chemical and physical properties and intermolecular forces and all that. So then I thought, hey why don’t we take a real life mixture and see if we can’t separate the mixture based on boiling points. Paraffin wax was sitting on my desk for a different project and so I thought it might work. But obviously it doesn’t. We don’t even ha e a simple distillation kit. Well... we do but it doesn’t work because I can’t get them to fix the faucet in my sink (public schools, whatyagonnado?) so it’s not a huge deal of it doesn’t work. We might make soap or something instead. I even thought about doing some hydrogenation or dehydrogenation. But I’m not sure that’s possible with what we have. Basically the labs need to be free or close to it.
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 11:52


Natural waxes from biological sources have functional groups on them, so separation by chromatography or other means might be easier than with regular old alkanes. Beeswax is just full of esters.



[Edited on 28-5-2019 by SWIM]




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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 12:54


As a teaching exercise you might be able to freeze (mainly) triolein out of olive oil.
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 13:11


You could try to saponify beeswax and break the major component triacontanyl palmitate, separating the long chain alcohol (it has growth hormone features for roses). Plus a really long alcohol is just unusual (for simple chemistry)




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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 18:27


You can actually do a distillation without running water- attach the hoses to the stems of two funnels, which are supported at an approximately equal level with ring stands. Pour ice water in one funnel. Raise or lower the other one to get cold water flowing slowly through the condensor, replenishing the ice as needed.



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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 19:00


That’s really awesome idea. If they can’t fix the sink in time for classes this fall I’ll have to try that. I refuse to ha e chemical equipment collecting dust.
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[*] posted on 28-5-2019 at 21:55


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Melting point, no. How on earth is a long chain molecule that reaches melting temperature going to escape the bulk of material that is still solid.

You know the MP can be approached from both directions? Freezing out might work, although I wouldn't expect miracles.

[Edited on 29-5-19 by Fulmen]


[edit]
Apologies Fulmen. I hit edit instead of reply. Error fixed.

[Edited on 29-5-2019 by j_sum1]




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[*] posted on 29-5-2019 at 01:08


Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Melting point, no. How on earth is a long chain molecule that reaches melting temperature going to escape the bulk of material that is still solid.

You know the MP can be approached from both directions? Freezing out might work, although I wouldn't expect miracles.



True. But like you I doubt the practicality. You would require really good temperature control and to be able to hold it for long enough for your fraction to settle -- or else have some means for filtering without altering the tempertature significantly.




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[*] posted on 29-5-2019 at 07:06


Still, it's worth a shot. I would think you'd need a vessel with: insulation -> temperature regulation -> thermal mass -> sample.
The upside is that it should be completely safe to run it unattended for long periods.




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[*] posted on 29-5-2019 at 07:57


There's a pdf entitled "Crystallization Behavior of Waxes" on Google that has some thoughts/approaches. Having a passing interest in electrets, it crossed my mind maybe a purified fraction of carnuba wax and beeswax would have enhanced electrostatic properties.

CRYSTALLIZATION BEHAVIOR OF WAXES
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&...
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[*] posted on 29-5-2019 at 11:39


If I were going to try separating Paraffin components I'd probably look into finding an appropriate solvent to thin the mixture so it would separate at a lower temperature.

Mixtures where the components are very similar sometimes don't separate on cooling very well.

Some essential oil mixtures just gel or solidify without separation unless you thin them a bit with an appropriate solvent.
I suspect a mixture of even more similar components like Paraffin might be even worse in that regard.

There's also the possibility of separating the straight from the branched chain alkanes by using urea inclusion complexes.




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