Date: Sat, 21 May 2011 10:59:34 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety"

Subject: Oxidizing Agents

From: Ernest Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**>

Subject: Oxidizing Agents
Date: May 20, 2011 8:45:04 PM EDT
In view if the discussions of super-oxidizing agents (hydrogen peroxide and sulphuric acid), I thought I should confess how I made permanganic acid many years ago, about 1943 when I was 12 years of age. That was back when you could buy any number of compounds from the local drugstore outside the Gilbert Chemistry Sets, especially when one=92s father gave a blanket OK. What a change from today! I don=92t recall where I learned about permanganic acid but it apparently came with some caveats about safety: Place no more than four crystals of potassium permanganate in a test tube and carefully add at arm=92s length two drops of concentrated sulphuric acid. There was an initial (explosion?) release of a puff of manganese oxides. A glass rod dipped into the remaining residue would ignite paper.

I was also adept in making nitrogen tri-iodide, black gunpowder, and nitrocellulose. I was smart enough to not try to nitrate glycerin. In college as a research assignment, I studied mercuric basic bromate, a very shock sensitive compound. Later on I worked with magnesium in liquid ammonia.

As I look back on my youth, I am surprised that I survived. Perhaps it was because very early on I learned through my father=92s tutelage how important it was to exercise care and forethought before you acted.


Ernie Lippert

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