Date: Sat, 21 May 2011 11:56:11 -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: McGrath Edward J <Edward.McGrath**At_Symbol_Here**REDCLAY.K12.DE.US>
Subject: Re: Oxidizing Agents

Dr. Lippert:
You made me chuckle this morning!  Just this week I was describing my 
junior year in college to someone--which was as recent as 1983.  In 
spring semester, I took genetics, where we anesthetized fruit flies with 
diethyl ether (liberally--our etherizer was a funnel with a cork 
containing a nail wrapped in rope.  We soaked the rope with ether, and 
shoved the apparatus into the bottle).  I also took microbiology, where 
we disinfected the countertop by pouring mercuric chloride solution on 
the table, and organic chemistry (with all the lovely extraction 
solvents).  Compound all  that with the fact that I was 20 years old and 
in college, it's amazing I have any functional liver tissue left!
Edward J. McGrath
Science Supervisor
Red Clay Consolidated School District


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List on behalf of Secretary, ACS Division of 
Chemical Health and Safety
Sent: Sat 5/21/2011 10:59 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Oxidizing Agents

From: Ernest Lippert 
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's father gave a 
blanket OK. What a change from today! I don't 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's 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's tutelage how 
important it was to exercise care and forethought before you acted.


Ernie Lippert

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