Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Acetic Acid Preparation

Some of the prepatory work for alchemy and working with metals is getting your chemicals together. In several sources, I've read that Acetic Acid is used quite frequently in alchemy but I couldn't figure out why... until I started this prepatory work. Acetic acid is used to draw out the salt of a metal - particularly when working with lead. The resultant "Salt of Saturn" is pretty cool.

This is really the first step in alchemy. Ancient alchemists needed some way of being able to break down the metal without just melting it. You can burn flesh and you can burn an herb - but when it comes to working with metals, you can't just put it in fire. All this does is melt it. So we need to break it down somehow - and with an organic material. This is important. It must be organic, pertaining to life (-ic meaning pertaining to, and organ meaning life.) Modern acetic acid is concocted in a commercial laboratory void of real life.

So the easiest way to start out with preparing your acetic acid is to go to the grocery store and buy some red wine vinegar like I did. If you really want to get into it, you can first brew your own wine and let it turn into vinegar, but for all intents and purposes many sources say that grocery brand vinegar is just fine.

I apologize for the sideways pics. As soon as I figure out how to correct that for you I will. If you click on it though, you'll see more pics of the process described below.

In my pictures, you'll see that I started out with just two liters and a third empty bottle. This isn't nearly enough to keep myself well supplied. You'll see why as you get to the end of the slides. Empty half of each bottle into the third bottle so that the two original bottles may be laid on their side without obstructing the the mouth of the bottle. We're going to freeze them this way. Once they have been sufficiently frozen, we're going to place them upside down in glasses. Acetic acid has a much lower freezing temperature than does water, so what happens is the organic material and acetic acid melts first and drains into the glass. What's left over is approximately 50% of the original vinegar. I continued to do this until all of the vinegar had undergone this freezing and draining at least once. Then I did it two more times. By the time I was done, I had less than 25% of the original product left.

But wait... there's more!

This doesn't have to be overly expensive, but to do it properly and without actually killing yourself through improper ventilation, you need to spend at least a little bit of money.

I'm still not done yet. There's more water in that last container, even though it looks really dark. Once it's properly distilled, it's supposed to have a yellowish color and honey like consistency. I haven't distilled it yet mainly because I don't have all of my equipment together. My retort and erlenmeyer flask are at my lab partner's house. Plus I had to go out and buy a candy thermometer because the common food thermometer doesn't measure high enough. I needed something that would measure up to 150 degrees celsius.

My next step is to boil the majority of the rest of the water off, then I will distill the remainder at least two times with my retort. All of this HAS to be done in glass containers as acetic acid will draw off material from metal. That's its purpose, but we don't want it to do that yet.

Considering that I have about a third of a liter, I'm not expecting a lot of acetic acid by the time I'm done but I'll keep you posted.

No comments:

Post a Comment