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Rador Labs Heavy Challenge!

Calling all backyard chemists: Rador Labs (link to Twitter) has issued its first monthly challenge with pooled money prize! The challenge is to make the heaviest compound by molar mass. Pure starting materials must have a molar mass less than 260 g/mol and starting materials extracted from impure sources must have a molar mass less […]

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Samarium’s unusual oxidation by hydrochloric acid

The Lanthanides (Ln elements, first f-block, Rare Earth elements) are a group of elements with strong chemical similarities but some unusual differences too. While the ‘natural’ oxidation state of most Ln elements is +3, some show +2 and +4 oxidation numbers. In the case of Samarium (Z = 62) this results in colourful behaviour when […]

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Great toy! Great Science! Dodgy ecology?

My daughter bought a great self assembly kit for a model motorbike, marketed as the ‘Salt Water Motorcycle’ (by The Source) and it turned out to be a great buy. Here it is fully assembled (length about 200 mm): It does straight runs, zigzags or runs in circles, as desired by the owner. And it […]

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Preparation of Butyric Acid by Oxidation of n-butanol with Permanganate

Below is a crisp and clear, step by step Utoob on the alkaline oxidation of n-butanol with potassium permanganate (KMnO4), to the fairly foul smelling butyric acid (butanoic acid, think rancid butter or vomit). In those conditions, the butanol is oxidised to sodium butyrate (which smells much less strongly because it is much less volatile) […]

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Chemistry 1808: the way we were…

Pictured below is a postcard my daughter brought back from the Science Museum (London). It is John Dalton’s Table of Elements (1808) and represents a great advance by the so-called ‘atomists’. The understanding that chemical elements are substances made up of the same types of atoms and how this explains why chemical compounds contain these […]

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A double salt of aluminium sulphate and aluminium chloride (AlClSO4.6H2O)

Over at ScienceMadness, member ‘CHRIS25’ got interested in a reference (link to atomistry) to an ‘aluminium chlorosulphate’, which states: When aluminium sulphate is boiled with concentrated hydrochloric acid and the liquid cooled, crystals of aluminium chlorosulphate, AlClSO4.6H2O are deposited, which are decomposed by water. I was sceptical about this claim, partly because ‘chlorosulphate’ in this […]

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Potassium Dihydrogen Phosphate Giant Crystal!

Watch a 400 kg crystal of KH2PO4 being produced: H/T: ‘CHRI$25’ at ScienceMadness

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Lab preparation of AlCl3: reduction of zinc chloride with aluminium powder

For the laboratory preparation of anhydrous aluminium chloride (CAS 7446-70-0) several routes are available including chlorination of aluminium powder or turnings with elemental chlorine or dry hydrogen chloride. Here we present an alternative method based on the use of anhydrous zinc chloride powder as a chlorinating agent. The reduction reaction: ZnCl2(s) + 2/3 Al(s) → […]

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Laboratory Preparation of 2-chloropropane (isopropyl chloride)

(An early version of this post was first published on Science Madness) Mono haloalkanes like chloropropane can be prepared by halogenation of alcohols in a typical substitution reaction: ROH + HX → RX + H2O … where X is a halogen and R an alkyl group. In the case of X = Cl the reaction […]

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Large Diffusion Cloud Chamber with Radon gas Double-decaying!

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