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Acetone Peroxide

Acetone peroxide is most commonly associated with terrorism now days. It is unfortunate that something of such great stature in the recreational world has been demeaned to where it lies now. I will of course still post a synthesis about it, despite all the controversy behind it.

Acetone peroxide is a white powder, with a distinguishable scent - comparable to altoids. Of course, everyone has different scent receptors so while some may enjoy it's performance in the olfactories, others will simply abhor it. It is quite sensitive, but when treated with care it's as safe as any explosive. One of the truly remarkable things about this explosive is that one mole (222.2g, which only takes up 188cm3/ml) will generate rougly 354 liters of gas once it explodes, which is about 94 gallons for us americans. It is easily prepared through the acid catalysed peroxidation of acetone.

Dimer and trimer explanation. There are two main isomers of acetone peroxide that form. The dimeric form and the trimeric form. The trimeric form is allegedly more stable, but only slightly. It is believed by many that certain synthesis conditions will favorably produce one isomer over the other. This is no longer accepted as truth, at least in the home chemist world. The amount of difference is negligible and comparing two batches produced in opposite conditions would not show positive results. Thus, the point of maintaining temps is to keep all the reactants inside the reaction vessel, as opposed to all over the walls, lab table, and chemist. The trimeric isomer will form in greater proportions anyways, and you'll always have a mix of the two no matter what you do.

3CH3COCH3 + 3H2O2 ----> C9H18O6 + 3H2O (trimeric isomer)

2CH3COCH3 + 2H2O2 ----> C6 H12O4 (dimeric isomer)

Acetone 100ml beaker or equivalent
Hydrogen Peroxide Pipette or dropper and stirring stick
>94% Sulfuric Acid Ice bath equipment
Sodium bicarbonate

Filtering equipment

Litmus paper Thermometer

Into a 100ml beaker, pour 25ml of acetone. To this, add 32ml of 30% hydrogen peroxide (35ml 27% hydrogen peroxide). Place this in a freezer and chill to 0C or below. While it is cooling, measure out 1ml of distilled water, and add to this 2ml of sulfuric acid, and place this as well into the freezer. While both are chilling, do something productive or learn something. When everything has reached it's required temp (at or below 0C), prepare a salt-ice bath. Place the beaker in the bath and begin adding the sulfuric acid solution very slowly with stirring. Watch the temperature, your goal is to keep it below 5C, but that can test your patience. It wont matter if it reaches 20C, just try not to go above that. Use propper dripping/adding technique to avoid both splattering the mixture and getting the catalyst on the side of the reaction vessel. If everything went well, you should have a crop of crystals floating in the beaker right now.

After the addition, remove it from the salt ice bath and place the beaker in the coldest section of your refridgerator. This is either the top shelf or very bottom shelf (study convection currents). I usually just leave it alone until I wake up the next day, but it generally takes 6-24 hours to fully react. After the alotted time, remove the beaker from the fridge. Prepare your filtration equipment, which generally only needs to be as high tech as a coffee filter in a funnel. Pour the contents of the reaction vessel into this. While the filtrate is draining through, fill the reaction vessel with distilled water to catch the crystals that remained. Pour this through the funnel. Repeat as necessary, then pour one clean batch of distilled water through the crystals. Pour one more clean batch of distilled water through, and test for acid using blue litmus paper. If no acid is present, then just remove the filter and dry the crystals.

If there is acid present, prepare 100ml of a 5% sodium bicarbonate solution. Pour this through the acetone peroxide and repeat with a clean batch of distilled water once more. Test for acid again. If acid is present, repeat the sodium bicarbonate wash. If no acid is present, test for base using red litmus paper. If base is present, rinse with water again. Once it shows up neutral, remove the filter and dry the crystals. If you feel unsafe about drying them all at once, I would recommend storing under water and drying what is needed when it is needed. Acetone peroxide slowly sublimes into air, and if stored in a container, it will find it's way into places, including the cap. This is why it should not be stored dry in any closeable container. Once fully dry, theoretical yeild is 22.67g.