Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Nitric Acid

A lot of recipes I've come across require a few drops of nitric acid. Because I have had a difficult time finding a source to buy the acid from and it looked fun I decided to try making some.

The video I linked to is from my first attempt which produced 1 drop of nitric acid. The coils in my condenser didn't allow the acid to reach the collection bottle. The second attempt produced about 50ml's of fuming nitric acid.

I will admit I am a very novice chemist, so my grasp of stoichiometry is weak and I just followed the proportions given in the video. Thankfully the internet helped. I used a chemical equation balancer to get
NH4NO3 + H2SO4 = HNO3 + NH4HSO4
That reads that I need 1 mole of ammonium nitrate (80 grams) and 1 mole of sulfuric acid (53 ml) will react to produce 1 mole of nitric acid (42 ml) and a mole of ammonium bisulfate (which I don't care about)

Thanks WolfrmAlpha!

So what I learned:
  • stoichiometry means less waste! Turns out I used twice the amount of sulfuric acid than I needed.
  • I know how much acid to expect so I have a better idea when the reaction is completed.

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