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Acetonitrile is a clear, colorless liquid and is a very useful organic solvent. It can be made from one of two ways; either distiling a mixture of acetic acid (or acetate compound) with lead thiocyanate, or running acetic acid vapors with ammonia gas over an aluminum oxide catalyst heated to 500C. This synthesis will be using the latter of the two methods, just to show that a process like that is well attainable in a home laboratory. The apparatus for this such process will of course need to be made, I will give detailed instructions on how to do this, but you will most likely have to improvise some of the peices.

CH3COOH(g) + NH3(g) --Al2O3, 500C--> CH3CN + 2H2O

Aluminum Sulfate The custom acetonitrile apparatus
Ammonia water Blow torch
Pummice Stone Sidearm flask
Ammonia Gas  


The apparatus was of course heavily improvised. The basic idea is to lead both acetic acid vapor and ammonia gas into a copper tube that has a heated catalyst in it, then condense the resulting liquid. I'll go into detail on how this is supposed to work, and how to build this specific apparatus in the page below

Acetonitrile Apparatus