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Possible To Make Sodium?


Vigo
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I can't remember where it was, but somewhere i read that it was possible to make sodium. The process had something to do with salt, some kind of liquid, and an electrical current. Does this sound familiar or like it would work to anybody?

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It is possible, but VERY difficult to do. What you have to do is get a LARGE amount of salt (NaCl) and using a source of heat melt the salt until it's a liquid. Once the sodium chloride is molten, you run an electrical current through it and you'll generate sodium metal and chlorine gas. There are a few problems with trying to do this at home, however.

 

1): It takes a LOT of heat to melt sodium chloride. You need a good torch with a LOT of fuel to do this.

 

2): You absolutely MUST keep the chlorine away from the molten sodium. At the temperatures used, the sodium formed will be liquid and liquid sodium plus chlorine gas results in a very nasty reaction.

 

3): The sodium formed is molten, so it will quickly oxidize and react with ANY water or oxygen in the air surrounding it. You will really need to use a dry box in order to ensure that no oxygen or H2O is present.

 

Because of these three problems, making sodium metal is a really difficult process. You can use sodium hydroxide in place of sodium chloride, but molten sodium hydroxide will eat through just about any container you can think of, so it's not a very good replacement. In reality, you're better off just purchasing sodium metal. :( (Or you could go to a junkyard and look for engine valves. Many automobile engine valves have sodium metal in the valve stems as it's a very good conductor of heat).

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3): The sodium formed is molten' date=' so it will quickly oxidize and react with ANY water or oxygen in the air surrounding it. You will really need to use a dry box in order to ensure that no oxygen or H2O is present.

[/quote']

 

Quite hard too do, you'll need a strong water absorber too do this.

 

This is quite dangerous ayway because if the Chloring and Sodium get together well lets say you sdon't wat too be there!

 

Plus, it is very, very hard for a home chemist too make the temperatures required.

 

Your best bet would eb too buy some or too get some form other sources, one such topic (jdurg's) can be found here: http://www.scienceforums.net/forums/showthread.php?t=17096

 

You may try searching the forums for other sources!

 

Cheers,

 

Ryuan Jones

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Yeah it probably would be easier and safer to just buy sodium. However, I am probably not old enough to buy it from any store on the internet seeing as how I'm only 17 and there is no way in hell that my parents would buy me the stuff. I've already been caught with 12 molar hydrochloric acid and concentrated sulfuric acid. It's just lucky that my dad didn't know that the stuff was dangerous!

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1): It takes a LOT of heat to melt sodium chloride. You need a good torch with a LOT of fuel to do this.

 

 

Or you can just solve it in water ...

 

You need an kathode made out of quecksilver , but you can read allt his in the existing thread.

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Or you can just solve it in water ...

 

You need an kathode made out of quecksilver ' date=' but you can read allt his in the existing thread.[/quote']

 

 

Please, please, PLEASE tell me how you can extract sodium METAL in an aqueous environment, or in ANY environment where water is contained. I would really like to know this. ;):D

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Even in an amalgam, water would be present and you wouldn't accomplish anything. When you electrolyze something, the most easily reduced ion gets reduced at the cathode, and th emost easily oxidized ion gets oxidized at the anode. What you make the anode/cathode out of doesn't really matter. When you have a sodium ion in an aqueous solution, the H+ ions are ALWAYS more readily reduced than the sodium ions. This is why sodium does not form in a reaction.

 

When you electrolyze salt water, you're not forming chlorine gas at one side and sodium metal at the other, then having the sodium metal immediately react to form H2 and NaOH. What you are doing is oxidizing Chloride to Cl2 and reducing H+ to H2. The OH- ions are simply left behind and what you end up with is NaOH.

 

In a non-aqueous environment you COULD use mercury as a cathode and get sodium metal to amalgamate there, but only if you have something like a molten NaCl "bath". Realistically speaking, you just can't get sodium metal to form in an aqueous environment.

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Interesting. Didn't realize that a mercury cathode produced that much of an overvoltage to allow sodium to reduce over H+ ions. (-2.71 to -0.41 is a HUGE overvoltage. Much more so than the one that allows chloride to react and form chlorine gas over oxygen).

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Interesting. Didn't realize that a mercury cathode produced that much of an overvoltage to allow sodium to reduce over H+ ions. (-2.71 to -0.41 is a HUGE overvoltage. Much more so than the one that allows chloride to react and form chlorine gas over oxygen).

 

next time think and get your information before you try to play the wisearce ;)

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Yeah, but now try and get your sodium out of your mercury without losing it all to instant oxidation. ;)

 

That will be a challange too say the least, will Sodium form an amalgum with Mercury in this case?

 

Cheers,

 

Ryan Jones

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ever heard of zonal melting under inert gas , i bet it would work :D

 

But if you have the inert gas and the proper apparatus, which the original poster most likely does not, then what's the point of using the mercury cathode when electrolysis on a molten salt would be just as easy. ;)

 

In addition, those who would like to make sodium metal probably don't have pure calcium or lithium metal hanging around. (Because if they could get pure Ca or Li, they could easily get Na too). :D

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All of you are right in some sense, but let's be practical and realistic. For the average home chemist it is VERY difficult to make sodium metal in a safe way and to isolate it. I myself do quite a lot of 'mad scientist' experiments, but the making of sodium at home I do not even consider. It simply is not worth the risk. Imagine what happens in case of an accident, with molten NaOH or NaCl sprayed around. Or with the amalgam method and trying to purify this. Think of the toxic mercury. Forget about making sodium metal at home. If you can't find a source of it, accept that, or do a better job finding one. There are many other fun experiments to be done at home as well.

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I tried making sodium a few weeks ago, but I'm not sure whether I succeeded or not. I put several grams of table salt in a crucible, melted the sodium chloride to a liquid, and then put in my electrical cable with the two electrodes. The electricity I used was taken from a DC converter that was outputting 12 volts (I think). I couldn't visibly notice any gas being released, so after about a minute I turned off the electricity. To determine whether I had made a minute amount of sodium or not, I waited for a few minutes for the crucible to cool and added water to the concoction. One of the electrodes began to bubble, stopping after maybe 30 seconds. Perhaps that was sodium, perhaps not. Either way, making the stuff in large quantities (even a gram) would be extremely difficult for a home chemist.

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IIRC, the addition of Calcium Chloride will lower the MP of your sodium chloride too, making it a little easier to melt, and you said you have some of that in your dessicator :)

might be worth a try when your feeling Brave again :))

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