Distill Hydrogen Peroxide

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Introduction: Distill Hydrogen Peroxide

If you have read some of my other Instructables you know that a lot of them require oxygen either from the surrounding air or from an oxidizer. Potassium Nitrate is the most common and easily obtainable but, for those of you who, for whatever reason can't obtain it can make your own from hydrogen peroxide.

Step 1: Gethering Materials

For materials you will need four things:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide (The Kind Diluted In Water)
2. A small glass or plastic cup.
3. Soluble salt (I used Morton's)
4. A small amount of your time.

Step 2: Distillation

The First and only step is to pour about one teaspoon of salt into you cup. Next pour three teaspoons of Hydrogen Peroxide on top of it. This mixture can be enlarged but remember to keep the solution at a ratio of 1:4. 1 being the salt and 4 being the Hydrogen Peroxide. After you have added all ingredients stir them together inside the cup. After all or most of the salt is dissolved let your solution sit until you see two layers in the liquid. These will be the salt water and the Hydrogen Peroxide separating. I am pretty sure the top one will be the Hydrogen Peroxide and the bottom one will be the salt water. Comment at the bottom to tell me what you find. I would also like to know what use you have found for it.

Have fun and enjoy!

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148 Comments

Most of the people commenting here need to lay off the tinkering and confabulating until they've studied some real chemistry texts and learned the principles and calculations and methods, before they get hurt.
About 25% of these comments are spot-on, though wasted as pearls before swine. Another 25% are pure nonsense, and the last 50% or so are poorly-formed arguments in the right general direction but not effective. I've been building pyrotechnics and propellants for 50 years, and the nature of much of this drivel causes me to fear for the safety of the experimenters and their neighborhoods. I hope not to dampen your enthusiasm, but to direct you toward serious, effective study of this wonderful subject. It IS rocket science, but everything you've discussed here was settled and published before any of us were born. The method of concentrating posited in the instructible will actually work, but is very ineffective. The product is only slightly more concentrated than the source material, and contaminated with Sodium, Chlorine and Iodine. An interesting and harmless experiment producing a small but detectable change- suitable for an instructable, but NOT for munitions or propellants, as many readers supposed. When professional chemical engineers like http://www.peroxidepropulsion.com/ get involved, high concentration H2O2 is made by reduced-pressure fractional distillation in dedicated glass apparatus, or by freeze crystallization. There is a detailed discussion at: http://www.rsc.org/ebooks/archive/free/BK9780854045365/BK9780854045365-00001.pdf
If you really want to brew your own, and have a vacuum pump and can blow glass, then see the attached diagram of the temperature gradients you'll need to dance around for crystallization. Below 62% water freezes before hydrogen peroxide, but after 62% hydrogen peroxide freezes before water. So quite high concentrations can be achieved if you freeze it to 62%, throw out the ice and then freeze it again, this time keeping the ice which is now relatively pure hydrogen peroxide. Of course, The freezing points are just too close between 55% and 65% to be able to cross the barrier without massive losses.
Therefore one would Freeze concentrate, removing water ice until concentration reached a suitable 50ish% and then evap to 70ish% and then freeze concentrate collecting H.perox.Ice until 90+% and then distill till ya get the really scary stuff. By the time you get that process rolling, your buddy can have the silver-catalyst jet pack built, and it will be a wild ride home!

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This comment was infinitely more useful than the 'ible. Thank you.

exactly right i am a pyro and beleav that u cannot have fun without work wether calculations or preperation

Actually, there is no possible way boiling it would yield ANY hydrogen peroxide at all. Hydrogen peroxide is enormously unstable, and simply exposing it to sunlight for short periods of time introduces enough energy to the system to begin decomposition to water and oxygen. This is why it is packaged in dark, opaque bottles. Boiling accomplishes nothing. High-concentration H2O2 can only be produced industrially or through a highly complex and controlled synthesis in a professional lab.

Actually, I used to think that, too, but H2O2 is apparently stable enough to heat that you can concentrate it with heat. I've been meaning to look into it.

Vacuum distillation would definitely work.

absolutely wrong. H2O2 is VERY sensitive to heat, decomposing into H2O & O2 even at high room temperatures.

In labs they keep H2O2 in fridges because it's indeed very easy for it to decompose from heat, UV, or any energy increase. Basically there's an electron shared between the 02 molecules and they both really want it and will take it with a little bit of help.

Right on, Kinnishian- A clear and relatively simple explanation of the instability of the polar covalent bonding that makes H2O2 so unstable.
The extreme variance in posts to this particular 'ible dramatically illustrate the disparity in thought process between those of us who have been exposed to rigor and guidance in our learning, and those who have had to figure it out with little if any help. I have to admire people like spence012, DeusXMachina and jpoopdog for their tenacity, enthusiasm and creative thinking, but without more guidance they will die or be severely injured long before producing any useful results. They will also, by this hit-miss process, re-invent the wheel many, many times. I'm beginning to wonder if some vetting process like WikiPedia uses might make this site more effective.

appreciate your knowledge and more than that thnx for sharing

I admire your condescension, but I actually have a BS in chemistry. If I remember correctly, my offhand comment that I made a year ago was based on a quick napkin-calculation on the decomposition rate of acid-stabilized 3% H2O2 at 120 degC based on the kinetics of H2O2 at room temperature. Obviously it decomposes at room temperature, but over a relatively long time frame. Even though there is a thousandfold increase in the reaction rate, the breakdown rate was low enough (I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think the halflife was on the order of an hour) that it should be theoretically possible to increase the concentration by a few percentage points merely by controlled boiling at atmospheric pressure in acid-washed borosilicate glass. You're clearly not going to get HTP or even 30% by this method, but for some purposes, increasing OTC 3% to 6% or 9% is sufficient (so long as the purity is high enough that there aren't enough metal ions to catalyze the decomp, the rate is close enough to breakeven as it is). Since the concentration remains relatively low, there is also much less risk of dangerous rapid decomposition as would be the case with high test, so the worst outcome is you end up with warm water. I would have investigated further, but I was busy with other things, and found a vacuum distillation method that was far more efficient, rendering the heating method moot, and just forgot about the matter. I may have to actually test this now just for the sake of thoroughness. I'd be more than happy to admit that it is not possible, because it's going to be a pain as it is merely due to existing impurities, but at least there will be a solid answer on the matter, rather than speculation.

Naturally, it's also not my issue if someone reads my comment or any other information on the internet, tries it, and suffers ill consequence from it, whether it be boiling H2O2, building a spudgun or frying a turkey. There is much, much more dangerous information on the internet.

But yes, I do agree that virtually everyone else has no idea what they are talking about.