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March 10 2012 7 10 /03 /March /2012 21:41

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Copper will be discussed here. 

 

Copper is a soft, reddish-pink metal. It is one of the only metals which has a color other than gray or blue-gray. Copper is pinkish when pure and more reddish-brown when exposed to air. Copper is an excellent electrical conductor and is rather inert. It does not dissolve in non-oxidizing acids if oxygen is not present. Copper is necessary for the human body in small quantities but toxic in large amounts. Copper compounds have a wide range of colors, but many are green to blue. When copper corrodes, it turns green, forming a protective patina of copper hydroxides and carbonates. Many interesting experiments can be performed using copper and its compounds.

 

In element form: Pure copper is used in water pipes and household wiring. Brass contains about 70% copper, bronze about 90%. U.S. nickels are made of 75% copper.

 

In compound form: Bright green-blue copper(II) chloride can be made by mixing copper metal with hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid and evaporating the green solution obtained.

 

Here is my sample of copper. It is a piece of pure copper wire (left), a brass antenna (center), and a copper-containing solder (right).

 

Copper-element.png

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March 9 2012 6 09 /03 /March /2012 20:25

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Nickel will be discussed here.

 

Nickel is a hard golden-silver corrosion-resistant metal. It forms green and blue compounds that are predominantly divalent. Nickel can cause allergic reactions, while its salts are considered Category 1 carcinogens (definitely carcinogenic). Nickel is used as a 25% nickel-75% copper alloy in the U.S. nickel. Some Canadian coins are made of pure nickel, which is ferromagnetic (strongly attracted to a magnet).

 

In element form: Some objects such as magnets are nickel plated. Obtain a pure 100% nickel coin, such as an old Canadian nickel. Precipitate nickel metal from a solution of its ion by reacting it with magnesium. A U.S. nickel is 25% nickel. 18/10 stainless steel has 10% nickel in it. Nichrome has about 80% nickel. Alnico magnets contain from 15-26% nickel. Cheap spark plugs' ground electrodes can be nickel plated or solid nickel.

 

In compound form: Nickel metal-hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries have nickel oxide hydroxide in them.

 

Here is an old Canadian coin, made of pure nickel metal.

 

Nickel-coin.png

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March 9 2012 6 09 /03 /March /2012 15:14

Nickel is a corrosion-resistant metal from Group 10. It forms predominantly divalent compounds. Here are several ways to dissolve nickel metal.

 

Hydrochloric acid + hydrogen peroxide: Nickel dissolves with moderate speed in this mixture. This is probably the cheapest and best way to dissolve nickel. However, nickel chloride is deliquescent, so the best way to store nickel would be in an a concentrated chloride solution or as the carbonate.

 

Nickel-dissolution-in-H2O2---HCl.JPG

This picture shows a piece of a spark plug ground wire (made of quite pure nickel) dissolving in this mixture.

 

Nitric acid: Nickel also dissolves well with this acid mixture. Nitrogen dioxide is produced as well as deliquescent nickel nitrate.

 

See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGVeDiVilgM as I do not have or care to make nitric acid.

 

Hydrochloric acid: Nickel dissolves extremely slowly in pure hydrochloric acid.

 

Sulfuric acid: Nickel can dissolve in hot concentrated sulfuric acid as well.

 

Acetic acid: 5% acetic acid is too dilute to dissolve nickel metal. Even the addition of hydrogen peroxide did not dissolve the nickel to any appreciable extent after 36 hours.

 

Iron(III) chloride: Iron(III) chloride acidified with hydrochloric acid easily and quickly dissolves nickel, resulting in a green solution of nickel(II) and iron(II) chlorides. Separation of the two may be done by the formation of a soluble ammine complex with the nickel. This method seems faster than the hydrogen peroxide method, and iron(III) chloride is easily made by dissolving rust powder in hydrochloric acid.

 

Nickel-and-iron-III--chloride-reaction.JPG

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March 8 2012 5 08 /03 /March /2012 18:30

Just this morning I obtained true titanium foil. It is heavier, shinier, and much stronger than magnesium foil. It is also much less reactive; no reaction occurred with a concentrated copper(II) chloride solution. However, my hydrochloric acid is too dilute to dissolve the titanium, so I need to find another method of dissolution.

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March 5 2012 2 05 /03 /March /2012 17:24

I recently purchased some titanium foil from GalliumSource. They sent magnesium. My first inkling of a problem was an extremely vigorous reaction between the foil and hydrochloric acid. It also formed small bubbles when placed in water and reacted violently with copper chloride. It was not shiny, showing a film of oxidation typical of magnesium. It was remarkably light but not remarkably strong, unlike titanium. After a short email discussion, I received word that I was receiving a replacement piece of titanium foil.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a0cSP5pSkc&feature=youtu.be shows several properties of this magnesium foil, demonstrating obvious differences from titanium.

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March 4 2012 1 04 /03 /March /2012 02:52

Sometime in the past I passed 50 volts of electricity through a thin piece of zinc. The hot arc melted and boiled the zinc, sending molten zinc everywhere. Once the zinc even ignited and burned with its characteristic blue-green flame. One piece of molten zinc landed on my brother's hand and was captured by this still image from a video. Soon after he says "ouch". The piece of zinc is between the alligator clips, barely visible. Zinc has a low melting and a low boiling point, making this process especially splatter-prone.

 

Snapshot---8.jpg

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March 3 2012 7 03 /03 /March /2012 15:22

I had two old mercury thermometers. Now there is one. Outdoors, I broke open a mercury thermometer and placed the majority of the mercury in a vial. To seal the vial, I placed petroleum jelly around the lid and tape over the petroleum jelly. Unfortunately, the subsequent playing with the mercury bead dislodged quantities of the petroleum jelly and spread it around the vial. The mercury was difficult to see.

 

Mercury-in-vial.JPG

I opened the vial (the petroleum jelly had countless tiny beads of mercury stuck in it) and placed it in another vial previously shown to have a good lid seal. Now the mercury is much easier to see. Here is a closeup of the bead. I plan to do nothing with the mercury in the near future except keep it with the element collection.

 

DSCF9885.JPG

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February 23 2012 5 23 /02 /February /2012 17:17

To pound indium, do not use an ordinary hammer unless it is new. An old hammer typically contains a large amount of junk on the surface which will all be transferred to the indium. This same thing happens when "Scotch" tape is placed on cotton fabric. Instead, find two flat and clean metal pieces and place the indium between them before pounding.

 

To produce a piece of indium from indium shot or granules, place the granules in a plastic bag and squeeze with pliers. They will stick. Place between two flat and clean metal pieces and squeeze further to cement together. Refold the indium piece and squeeze again. Re-add any pieces of indium that did not stick.

 

Keep indium always in a clean location as it has a unique ability to pick up dirt.

 

Deep frying indium will most likely melt it.

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February 22 2012 4 22 /02 /February /2012 15:48

The rest of the elements I purchased from Gallium Source came. The beryllium was in the form of a small sphere. It is dull gray with a somewhat wrinkled skin. The indium was in the form of small spheres which I pressed together to make one large piece. The titanium foil has a very slight golden sheen. I plan to do some experiments with them and post some pictures here. Here is the indium and the beryllium.

 

Indium.JPGBeryllium--4-.JPG

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February 17 2012 6 17 /02 /February /2012 20:21

I recently made a purchase from Gallium Source LLC. The calcium metal arrived today. It was dry (no paraffin) and had a golden tinge to it, the result of a thin layer of oxide. It is surprisingly light. It dissolves rather slowly in cold water but much more rapidly when acetic acid is added. 10 grams cost $13.00 including shipping.

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