(Updated - see end, below)
If you've ever wanted to play around with sodium acetate, but you're too much of a nerd to simply go online and buy some from a chemical supply house - noooo, that'd be too easy, you want to make it, from scratch - then this instructable is for you.
Inside, I show the whole process, from baking soda and vinegar, through concentration and filtering, to final crystallization.
(Please note that you, not I, explicitly assume all risk associated with playing with chemicals, fire, or hot things. Use common sense. If you're not an adult, enlist the help of a parent. If you're an idiot, close your browser now before you burn yourself. And regardless, by reading any of the suggestions contained herein, you implicitly assume full responsibility for any and all accidents, burns, lacerations, ruptured spleens, loss of consciousness, death, shin splints, hangovers, spurned advances, or insolvency that may result. Seriously... use your brain.)
Update: When I first wrote this Instructable, I somehow got it in my mind that acetic acid had a boiling point that was slightly lower than water - this is incorrect! Acetic acid (ethanoic acid) has a boiling point of 118.1 C. This may change some steps and I may amend the instructions after I've had a chance to play with a few things; for now, though, when I talk about acetic acid boiling off in some of the steps, take it with a grain of salt (or at least sodium bicarbonate). :-)
Step 1: Preparation
We'll be making approximately 330 mL (or 11 fl oz) of supersaturated solution.
You will need the following items:
- One 16 oz box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- One gallon jug of distilled white vinegar (acetic acid)
- Clean pot for boiling (5.5 Qt or larger)
- Another clean pot for filtering (4 Qt or larger)
- Pack of coffee filters (basket style, not funnel shaped)
- Small wire mesh strainer (big enough to hold a coffee filter)
- One cup measuring cup for pouring hot solution through filter
- Large clean cooking spoon for removing samples while boiling
- Small clean dark dish (e.g. custard cup) for holding samples
- Clean jar to hold final solution
- Distilled water (in case you over-boil the final solution - see step 14)
Optional Items - this is for a purification step that I found I needed (see step 6 for an explanation). If you decide to do this too, you'll need:
- Two cups granulated activated charcoal (from drug store or pet supply)
- Lab stand with burette clamp (if you have this)
- Funnel (if you have a lab stand; should be big enough to hold folded coffee filters - see step 10)