The Book Project

Distilling Nitric Acid

The content of this page last updated 09/02/12

     A member of the Sciencemadness discussion forum has offered to take over the book project.  As a test run they are cleaning up some of the chapters and trying to get some work done on this project for the first time in six years.  Chapter 1 below has been updated with their efforts.  Please continue to direct any questions to me in the meantime.  Thanks and enjoy!


Previous Update

       This page was last updated over three years ago.  Honestly however not much has happened during that time period.  This is for multiple reasons.  The most detrimental being:

        So, what does all of this mean?  It means that I have done essentially nothing on this project since 2006.  Does it meant the project is dead?  No, at no time did I ever not accept contributions and over those years I did get a few nibbles offering help in various areas, I just got nothing contributed.  And what does this mean for the future?  It means this project will likely continue as a the failure that it has become for some time.  It is still open for contributions.  But my work on it will be minimal beyond updating what is already here.  If someone is willing to take over the responsibilities for this project we might be able to work something out.  This would involve contacting all of the parties that have their name tagged into the 'Credits' section and get their permission to transfer this project. 

        Regardless, if you are here just to check things out.  Feel free, it's all up here still.  But beyond that, to check this page for updates on a regular basis would be lunacy unless there was a sudden influx of contributors.  Hopefully you all enjoy,


Previous Mission Statement

        What the book project is (currently) is an attempt to put tons of useful knowledge, lab technique, interesting reactions, and true to life experiences in one place.  Nomenclature of common lab equipment, OTC items, improvising condensers, scrubbing exit gasses, running under inert atmospheres, with plenty of pictures and fun facts, you name it, I want to cover it.  It is aimed at people with a little chemical experience but those simpler areas that intro into the rest of the project are not yet done, as a matter of fact I would call no section done.  I am trying not to have any noticeable focus on explosives but other then that go where you may.  It is all up for grabs and modifications still.  However it is not up for proof reading yet, I'm just trying to get everything there.

        Recently, the book was split into sections so that each section can be individually downloaded and updated by myself.  This was one of the impediments to me updating as often as I would like as my computer is from 1998 and doesn't much like working with massive word documents or PDF files so to work on the large file was a hassle.  Once completed it will be recompiled into one work so that it cannot be disseminated and found by individuals to be missing pieces.  Note that because it is no longer in one piece I will not be keeping track of the length but at last account it was considerably over 200 pages in PDF format.

       When it's done it will be free to distribute to the furthest corners of the web, and since it is being written by members and is therefore not from a book it has no copyright concerns what so ever.  Anyone who helps will get their name in the credits however they please to see it and you can of course download a copy of the book when it's done (or anywhere in between).

       Everyone is free to help, you can write for a section that is already there, and I will either incorporate your writing into what's there, or incorporate what's there into yours. The only rule to writing something is that it has to be highly readable, and accurate to the best of your knowledge.  Some people wonder how they can help, well, if you're not experienced in any techniques, you have absolutely no experience doing chemistry, you've never had anything chemistry related happened, and you are bad at writing.... you can egg me on and keep my spirits up! ;)

       Send any additions to


Iíve found that this book project has been showing up on more and more search engines lately and is also being directly linked to for the information it contains.  I therefore find it necessary to warn all persons viewing this document that it is a work in progress, and as such it contains errors of all kinds, be them in experimental procedures that may cause harm, or in faulty reasoning that would get you slapped by nearly any chemistry instructor.  Please for now take the information here with a grain of salt.

Most Importantly!

By reading further you agree not to hold the authors of this document responsible for any injuries/fatalities that may occur from attempting to make any of the products or following any of the procedures that are outlined within.  Chemistry inherently possesses a degree of danger and you must understand this, wear gloves and more if the situation calls for it, your safety is in your own hands, not mine!

Red = Not yet Started  Orange = Major Work Needed Green = Needs more information  Blue = Getting Close

1.0  Introduction and Statement of Purpose        PDF        DOCX 
        1.1  Disclaimer
        1.2  Safety Precautions and Gear
                 1.2a  Definitions of common medical lingo
        1.3  How to Read/Write a Chemical Reaction
        1.4  Units used Throughout
        1.5  Discussion of Legality / Words of Encouragement
2.0  Reaction Vessels        PDF        DOCX   
        2.1  Glassware
                2.1a  Borosilicate Glassware
                2.1b  Soda-Lime Glass
2.1c  Vycor, Lead Glass, Misc.
                2.1d Cleaning Glassware
        2.2  Plastics
        2.3 Ceramics
2.4  Teflon
2.5  Refractory Compositions
        2.6  Metals
3.0  Basic Lab Techniques        PDF       DOCX     UPDATED!  9/02/12
3.1  Refluxing
        3.2  Distillation
        3.3  Filtering
                3.3a  Selection of Filter Paper
                3.3b  Gravity Filtration
                3.3c  Vacuum Filtration

        3.4  Electrolysis
                3.4a  Molten Salt Electrolysis
                3.4b  Aqueous Electrolysis
                3.4c  Non-Aqueous Electrolysis
3.5  Titrations (Updated 7/9/06)
        3.6  Temperature Control and Measuring
        3.7  Removing water from Gasses and Liquids
3.8  Recrystalization
        3.9  Measuring weight and volume

4.0  Lab Reagent Types        PDF        HTML
        4.1  Acid-Base theory
        4.2  Acids
        4.3  Bases
        4.4  Oxidizing Agents
                4.4a  Molten Salt Oxidations / Solid State Oxidations  
        4.5  Reducing Agents
        4.5  Dehydrating Agents / Desiccants
        4.6  Poisonous Reagents
        4.7  Solvents
        4.8  Metals
4.9  Halogens
        4.10  Alkali Metals
        4.11 Organic Functional Groups
        4.12 Gasses
5.0  Simple Reactions        PDF        HTML
        5.1  Le Chatelier's Principle
        5.2  Reactions with expanded information
        5.3  Simple preparations with simplified directions

        5.4 - Etc.  More Preparations including useful preps that could be expanded
6.0  Practical Concerns for running an Amateur Lab        PDF        HTML
        6.1 Starting up and Stocking your Lab Space (The essentials)
        6.2  Legality
        6.3  Storage of Reagents / Separation of Chemicals
  6.4  Disposal of Waste Materials Generated
6.5  Considering your Neighbors / Neighborhood in every Reaction
        6.6  Privacy & Security

7.0  Choosing your own Experiments        PDF        HTML
        7.1  Researching
                7.1a  Internet
                7.1b  Library
                        7.1b1  Following up on Footnotes
                7.1c  Chemical Abstracts
        7.2  Scaling up and Scaling Down
        7.3  Being Thorough
7.4  The Importance of Keeping a Log
        7.5  Trouble Shooting
        7.6  Stories of Try, Try, and Try Again
        7.7  Lengthy Story about compiling a synthesis along with all details

8.0  Advanced Techniques        PDF        HTML
        8.1  Working at High Temperatures
                8.1a  Advanced heating Techniques
8.1b  Fuels
8.1c  Refectories
8.1d  Furnaces
                        8.1d(a) Gas Fired
                        8.1d(b)  Electric
                        8.1d(c)  Charcoal

        8.2  Fractional Distillation
        8.3  Catalyst Tubes
        8.4  Inert Atmospheres
        8.5  Solvent/Solvent extraction Systems
        8.6  Vacuum Pumps and Working Under Vacuum
9.0  When Things go Wrong        PDF        HTML
        9.1  Contingency Plans
        9.2  Don't Mix.... or ....
                9.2a  Sensitive/Explosive Mixtures Involving Oxidizing Agents
9.2b  Unstable Peroxides
        9.3  Flammibility Concerns
        9.4  When to 'Abandon Ship!'
10.0  Finding Things at Home
        10.1  Pure Compounds
10.2  Making Vs. Buying
        10.3  Extracting Compounds
                10.3a  Basic Principles, Comparing Properties
        10.4  Mail Ordering
        10.5  Notes About Purity

11.0  Advanced Experiments (Include Organic)        PDF        HTML
12.0  Index
        12.1  The Elements
        12.2  Compounds
        12.3  Technical Terms
13.0  Appendix (Specific Tables / Additional Experiments)
        13.1  Salts (nearly)insoluble in cold water
14.0  Credits / Free Distribution Rights (Updated 7/9/06)

Picture Needs (all pictures need to be free from copyright concerns, either take them yourself or find something that specifically says that it can be copied and distributed):