This is a super easy way to make rust (Fe2O3) or iron oxide. All needed materials can easily be purchased from a super market or large volume store like Target or Walmart. In addition to creating the Iron Oxide oxidizer needed for rocket candy rocket fuel, this process can also be used for witnessing chemical reactions and properties of reactions (a noticeably exothermic reaction takes place).
Let's get started!!
Step 1: Materials
Cheap vinegar- undiluted acetic acid may also be used
Bleach- It is important that the bleach is Clorox or a similar beach that has oxygen in it, normally in the form of sodium hypochlorite.
Some kind of rubber or latex gloves- Yes for safety but more so for the smell
Three plastic cups or glass beakers- At least one should be clear so that observations can be made.
Painter's steel wool- Not the dish washing type with soap, just simple steel wool
Plastic wrap- To cover reaction beaker
Two coffee filters (not required)
All mixing should take place on a hard, non-porous surface to avoid staining. Also, leave the cup or beaker outside or in a well ventilated area, like a hood, so that your work space doesn't get fumey.
Step 2: Cleaning the Steel Wool
In order to strip the steel wool of any processing chemicals or protective coatings the wool must be soaked in an acetic acid, vinegar, bath. Place the wool in a cup and submerge it in vinigar, cover the cup and leave it in a well ventilated area for 24-48 hours.
After the steel wool is clean it must be squeezed to remove most of the vinegar (it is not important to remove all of the vinegar because the next solution that the wool will be bathed in will also have vinegar.) This can be done over a slop sink. Do this with a glove on.
If you are not afraid to get smelly hands at this point you can touch the wool and feel that it has became warm due to an exothermic reaction.
Note- You may notice that some rust has began to form at the bottom of the vinegar solution, this will be collected later so do not throw out the cup yet.
Step 3: Quick Rust Solution
Take the clean steel wool from the last step and place it in a new cup. Put a splash of vinegar into the cup and then submerge the wool with bleach. Give the solution a stir and immediately place it in a well ventilated area. I got another clear cup and transferred this solution into it so that I could observe the reaction.
leave this cup until all of the steel wool has reacted. There is a chance that all of the steel wool will not react. If this is the case remove the wool and place it in a cup of bleach until all of the steel wool reacts.
Step 4: Filtering and Rust Collection
Take the only vinegar solution and pour it through a coffee filter into a clear cup. Pour very slowly, the goal of filtering is to remove any rust suspended in the vinegar but at the same time not to disturb the rust that has collected at the bottom of the cup. This will serve as good practice for filtering the richer Clorox solution.
Hold the filter in the cup
pour the solution into the filter, slowly
Look in the cup to check if any rust has made it through the filter, if not the filtering process can be continued over a sink
at the end you should have a cup of rust and a rusty filter
let both dry and knock the rust into a storage container
Repeat the same steps for the Clorox solution.
Step 5: Final Product
The Iron Oxide is now ready for use in rocket fuel.
Please leave any comments, questions or critiques in the comments
Also, please tell me how your experience with making rust went