The Amateur Chemist

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Synthesis of Lead (II) Acetate


This is how to synthesize lead (II) acetate. Take extra caution however, as just like elemental lead, lead salts are toxic as well. Sometimes even more so, since lead metal doesn't dissolve nearly as well in your body, blood, sweat, etc. as a lead salt could.  Plus we are going from a largish chunk of lead metal to a lead (salt) powder, which can go in the air and you can breath in easily. Just be CAREFUL.  Since this is almost exactly the same procedure as copper acetate, I am going to just copy and paste most of it over.


This experiment outlines what I think is a very easy way to make lead acetate.  There are many ways that you could synthesize this chemical.  This method will yield lead acetate the easiest, however it will probably not yield you the most lead acetate for your time. If you are interested in making a large amount (>50 grams), I would try combining aqueous solutions of sodium acetate and lead carbonate (or any other lead salt that would react well), then separate it from the sodium carbonate somehow.

In this method, all you need is lead metal, vinegar, and regular hydrogen peroxide.  These are all OTC chemicals and very easy to get. To start, combine around equal amounts of the 3% hydrogen peroxide, and the vinegar (5% acetic acid%).  Put this on a hotplate, burner, etc. and heat it until it is almost boiling. Take it off the hotplate, and immediately add the lead metal.  The mixture should start to bubble vigorously, for quite a while. Mine bubbled for around 5 minutes.  I am not completely sure how this reaction exactly works, but to my knowledge the hydrogen peroxide is acting as an oxidizing agent in the acidic (acetic acid) conditions.  It oxidizes the lead metal, leaving it open to the vinegar (acetic acid) to react with it, forming lead II acetate.

Pb+0(aq) + H2O2 +  2 H+(aq) →  Pb+2(aq) + 2 H2O(l)
Pb+2 +  C2H4O2 ----> Pb(CH3CO2)2


Simply wait until it is done reacting, then pour it out onto a large evaporating dish (anything large and flat that can hold liquid). Ideally, it should only be several mm thick. This will let it crystallize within several days max.  The thicker it is, the longer it will take.  When my lead was reacting with the acetic acid, I got a gray precipitate which I think was unreacted lead, or some other impurity (I used lead sinkers). I merely filtered this out, and continued. I never got it completely clear, but we'll see what happens.  Lead acetate is a white solid, so your solution should be completely clear, maybe a little white/gray tint to it.