The Amateur Chemist

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Synthesis of Glacial Acetic Acid



I still have to find the notes I made on this experiment when I did it, and when I do, I will further explain this process and give exact measurements.

For now, I will just give a general overview of how the process works.

To start, you need to make some anhydrous sodium acetate. To do this, simply combine some vinegar (acetic acid) and some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the classic volcano type experiment. This will foam a lot. Keep adding the sodium bicarbonate until it stops reacting. Filter this solution to get rid of excess baking soda if you have any. Then put it on the stove, or a hot plate. Boil the solution down until you just start to see crystals form on the surface. Immediately take it off the heat and pour the solution into another clean dry beaker. To make really pure large crystals, put the beaker in a large thermos to cool it slowly and make large crystals. Filter to get the crystals. Dry them out, then put them on a hot plate or in the oven to dehydrate them. This gives you anhydrous sodium acetate. 

Then simply combine stoichiometric amounts of the sodium acetate and some sodium bisulfate (pool ph chemical found at hardware stores) in a beaker. Heat and distill off the glacial acetic acid. You should be able to notice the smell of the acetic acid fairly easily as it is very concentrated and smells much stronger than normal vinegar.