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Chemistry set DIY gas mantle? Answered

I'm looking for some help tracking down a chemistry experiment I tried as a child and would like to replicate.  As I recall it involved dissolving a solid (perhaps limestone) in a liquid (possibly vinegar), soaking some cloth in the resulting solution and burning it over a flame when it dried. 

The idea was that the cloth would burn away and leave a mesh of whatever it was, probably lime, that acted as a mantle.  I tried it as a child and had limited success (I was too impatient to get some appropriate cloth or wait for it to dry properly) and would like to try it now that I'm older and wiser older.

If it does have to be limestone, any ideas how I can hold of small quantities without having to go to the local chalk quarry?



7 years ago

Lime in small quantities is available in Mexican or Spanish Markets.
Or if you're going to disolve it in acid anywhere, there is also eggshells. Or seashells of any kind.

I remember these gas mantles from my grandmas house so it brought back a lot of memories. Never knew anything about them. We just bought them at the hardware shop.


7 years ago

You can pickup lime at any hardware store, and, off the top of my head, pickling lime at the grocery store.

If you're worried about the lime not being calcium oxide (as opposed to hydoxide, which i see as somewhat moot since it will hydrolize as soon you add water...) you could just roast it.

you could then mix the calcium oxide with water and soak a cloth mesh with it and allow it to dry.

That all said, I think aluminum (hydr)oxide is more what ya want. heat drives off the water and creates an oxide. aluminum hydroxide can be prepared by dissolving aluminum oxide in hydrochloric acid. After allowing a stuff to saturate a cloth mesh, heating it should drive off excess water and an aluminum oxide lattice should remain.

aluminum and it's respective hydroxides and oxides have a long list of interactions with ambient water and oxygen, and it's relatively stable.

Proper mantles were made with a Thorium salt I think.

I had heard that before (the radioactive boy scout story?), but I'm pretty sure the little test tube in the chemistry set I had as a child wasn't thorium oxide :)

I suspect the experiment was related to limelight, which as far as I know is calcium oxide (thermally decomposed from calcium hydroxide or another calcium salt, perhaps).  I say limestone for the original reagent because I have a recollection of "limestone chips" along with the litmus paper, meths burner and other chemistry paraphernalia.

Could be limelight. Whitewash would work, if you can still get it.,

Wasn't limelight struck with a hydrogen flame ?