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June 27 2011 2 27 /06 /June /2011 14:21

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

 

Chlorine is a light yellow-green gas. It is the second halogen. It is less oxidizing than fluorine but more oxidizing than bromine. It has a choking odor and was used as a poison gas in early World War I. Chlorine is used for bleaching and disinfecting. It dissolves in sodium hydroxide to make bleach solution. Removing the sodium hydroxide by reaction with acid produces chlorine gas again. Chlorides are more benign. Sodium chloride is one of the most common salts.

 

In element form: Electrolysis of sodium chloride solution with a carbon anode makes chlorine. Hydrochloric acid and manganese dioxide produce chlorine. Hydrochloric acid and bleach also produce chlorine.

 

In compound form: Bleach and salt contain chlorine. Chloride is a common anion.

 

    Here is some chlorine gas I temporarily produced from hydrochloric acid and bleach reaction. I did not retain it.

 

    Chlorine-gas--2-.JPG

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June 25 2011 7 25 /06 /June /2011 13:44

After collecting the elements, you may like to display them. There are several ways to do this. For very small element samples, taping the samples to a large paper periodic table is good. You may also purchase vials in which you place your element samples. This is a more expensive way. For the metals, I place them in a plastic bag. For the powdered metals, powdered semimetals, and nonmetals, I wrap them with tape. You may have a method that works better. If so, I would like to hear about it.

 

 

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June 25 2011 7 25 /06 /June /2011 13:39

Some elements that I have found no household uses for are: lutetium, thulium, all the highly radioactive elements except for americium, and thallium. I do not include any of the radioactive elements except thorium, which is quite weakly radioactive.

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June 25 2011 7 25 /06 /June /2011 13:33

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

 

Sulfur is a yellow crystalline substance. It is a brittle flammable nonmetal. It burns to make the noxious gas sulfur dioxide. Sulfur is a relatively common mineral. Sulfuric acid is the most important industrial chemical. Sulfites are used to preserve dried fruits. Sulfur melts to a thin yellow liquid, which when heated creates a thick red liquid. This, when further heated, burns in air or vaporizes in an inert atmosphere. If the red liquid is dropped in water, a rubbery form of sulfur is created.

 

In element form: Flowers of sulfur (pure sulfur) is available at drug stores. Many chemistry kits have sulfur in them.

 

In compound form: Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate. Sulfuric acid is used in lead-acid batteries. Pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral.

 

Here is my sample of sulfur. It is from a chemistry kit. It has a very faint odor.

 

Sulfur element powder

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June 24 2011 6 24 /06 /June /2011 12:51

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

 

Phosphorus comes in several allotropes. One is a white, waxy, pryophoric, highly toxic substance. Another is a crumbly, red, flammable substance. Another is a hard, violet, crystalline substance. The first two are most common. White phosphorus (as the white allotrope is called) is used in smoke bombs and incendiary devices. Red phosphorus is used in pyrotechnics and matches. Phosphates are used in toothpastes, baking powder, and cleaners, to name a few.

 

In element form: Armstrong's mixture, found in noisy toy guns that do not shoot anything, is a mixture of red phosphorus and potassium chlorate. Red phosphorus is also found in the striker portion of safety matches. Phosphor bronze has about 1% phosphorus in it.

 

In compound form: Baking powder has phosphates in it. Some rodent poisons use phosphides. Phosphoric acid is found in soft drinks. Phosphorus sulfide is found in the heads of strike-anywhere matches.

 

Here is my sample of phosphorus.  It is scraped from a matchbox striker. Because it was an old matchbox, there appears to be much more phosphorus on it.

 

Phosphorus

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June 23 2011 5 23 /06 /June /2011 11:57

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

 

Silicon is a hard, bluish-gray semimetal. When extremely pure, it has a mirror-like shine. It is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust. It is used extensively in electronic devices. Many of its compounds exhibit typical semimetal properties; for example, the fluoride is a gas at room temperature.

 

In element form: Transistors and integrated circuits use silicon. Diodes contain silicon, which can be obtained by cracking the ceramic case off and breaking apart the diode via the wires.

 

In compound form: Silicon dioxide is found in sand and quartz. Most rocks are silicates.

 

This is my sample of silicon. It is one half of a cracked open diode after the wire has been cut off. The copper base is visible around the edges, while the silicon crystal is clearly seen.

 

Silicon

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June 22 2011 4 22 /06 /June /2011 13:10

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

 

Aluminium is a very common, light, silvery gray metal. It requires much energy to extract from its ores and can be recycled economically. It is used in many structural applications. Aluminium compounds are used to purify water and deodorize.

 

In element form: Many objects, such as aluminium foil, are made of aluminium.

 

In compound form: Some deodorants have aluminium chloride or oxychloride in them. Emery is made of aluminium oxide.

 

Here is my sample of aluminium. It is a piece of aluminium foil that is crumpled.

 

Aluminium

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June 21 2011 3 21 /06 /June /2011 14:02

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

 

Magnesium is a light, relatively strong alkali metal. It is highly reactive but protected by an oxide layer. It finds much use in high-performance alloys that need to be light but strong. It is also used in pyrotechnics. Magnesium compounds are used as antacids, bath salts, and refractories.

 

In element form: Magnesium fire starters contain magnesium. Magnesium ribbon is easily obtained as well. Fresh water boat anodes are made of magnesium. Laptop frames, some car frames, and expensive pencil sharpeners are made of magnesium alloy.

 

In compound form: Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate. Milk of magnesia is made of magnesium hydroxide. Magnesium carbonate is used to make better grip when rock climbing.

 

Here is my sample of magnesium, a fire starter.

 

    DSCF9887.JPG

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June 20 2011 2 20 /06 /June /2011 12:45

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

 

Sodium is a light, low-melting, reactive metal. It belongs in the alkali metals group. It oxidizes rapidly in air, and its reaction with water is famous. It is one of the most widespread metals in the form of its compounds. Sodium chloride is the most well-known sodium compound. Sodium metal has a few specialized uses, such as a coolant in some nuclear power plants.

 

In element form: Low pressure sodium vapor lamps have pure sodium metal in them. High pressure sodium lamps have sodium amalgam in them.

 

In compound form: Sodium chloride is the most common sodium compound. Baking soda also contains sodium, as do many other chemicals.

 

Here is my sample of sodium in the form of one of its compounds, sodium bromide.

 

 Sodium-bromide.JPG

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June 17 2011 6 17 /06 /June /2011 15:45

The Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) contains several elements.

 

Mercury-vapor in the tube

Silicon-solid in the diodes

Aluminium-in the base

Argon-in the tube

Tungsten-in the filaments

Copper-circuit board wires

 

Barium oxide-coating the filaments

Strontium oxide-coating the filaments

Yttrium oxide-in the phosphor

Lanthanum phosphate-in the phosphor

Europium oxide-phosphor dopant

Terbium phosphate-phosphor dopant

Cerium phosphate-phosphor dopant

Silicon dioxide-circuit board construction

Sodium calcium silicate-glass tube

 

It is recommended to collect a different substance for each element. For example, do not have a neodymium magnet represent nickel (from the plating), neodymium, iron, and boron. You will have a bor(on)ing element collection that way.

 

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