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Old 09-06-08, 05:55 PM   #1
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Safe Ways To Do Electrolysis?

Basically I'm a science nut. I've recently been making my own real-life periodic table of elements. I have everything but the very rare metals (e.g., francium), heavy metals higher than uranium (e.g., plutonium, which is illegal anyway), very expensive metals (e.g., rubidium, cesium) which I'll get later, illegal elements and the gases. Obviously, it's not a complete table but it will end up being as close as a schmuck like me can get. I'm trying to work on getting the gases now. I figure I'll start with hydrogen and oxygen.

First off, how exactly does one reduce the risk of igniting the hydrogen while doing electrolysis. Then, how would I get the hydrogen into a vial in a fairly pure state (>80% pure hydrogen). I ask this because there's no way of knowing if your getting a vial full of hydrogen or completely full of lame air. Thanks!
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Old 09-06-08, 06:00 PM   #2
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never did electrolysis in class?

last I recall, my class just had a pair of platinum rods hooked up with cables to an AC-DC converter and had 2 test tubes submerged in water with the rods inside them.

you can substitute platinum with stainless steel as well as add salt to the water to speed up the process.

Pretty sure we turned it up to 11DCVolts when the teacher wasn't looking.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:02 PM   #3
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never did electrolysis in class?

last I recall, my class just had a pair of platinum rods hooked up with cables to an AC-DC converter and had 2 test tubes submerged in water with the rods inside them.

you can substitute platinum with stainless steel as well as add salt to the water to speed up the process.

Pretty sure we turned it up to 11DCVolts when the teacher wasn't looking.
Once, but we never collected the gases. I know how to do it, but I'm not keen about hydrogen floating around my garage.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:03 PM   #4
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I've done electrolysis and ignited the hydrogen gas, it's not that bad. It is, however, extremely loud; wear ear protection!

At first I just had two aluminum plates in a bucket of water, with a car battery supplying current to both plates. I just held a match above the plates and you would hear a high pitch pop and see an extremely fast flash. Then I upgraded to stainless steel tubes with machined spacers so that they are held concentric to each other.

And lastly, the least safe way, I made a closed container for the hydrogen to go into. Then I proceeded to open the lid, toss in a lit match, and it sounded like 4 gun shots going off at once.

you won't be producing that much gas, unless you're supplying some serious current. You won't have any risk of mass ignition, especially if you don't store it like I did. Also, there's no reason for the gas to ignite unless you have some super heat source (match, torch, spark, etc.).

Perfectly safe!
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Old 09-06-08, 06:14 PM   #5
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M'kay. Anyway to get the gas into a container?
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Old 09-06-08, 06:16 PM   #6
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it's pretty hard to produce a spark with drenched cables and only a battery too.

collection is easy. Just put an upside down test tube or flask on top of the anode and cathode when submerged in water. (make sure there's no air inside the container when you start)
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Old 09-06-08, 06:19 PM   #7
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NEVAR MIND

I found a store on eBay that I can get ampoules of gases from, including argon and such.


I do have a little high-voltage power-supply I got from United Nuclear. If burning hydrogen isn't dangerous, maybe I'll try it. However, my supply only goes down to 1,000 volts.

If 11 volts is intense, I can only assume I will have a big amount of hydrogen waiting to burn my face off.

EDIT- I don't even know if I can use my supply though. Seems like I'd have to jerry-rig something to get it to work. I've only been using it to make x-ray tubes.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:20 PM   #8
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http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html
This is fascinating.
He is using a catalyst.

"Daniel G. Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT, has developed a simple method to split water molecules and produce oxygen gas, a discovery that paves the way for large-scale use of solar power."
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Old 09-06-08, 06:23 PM   #9
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NEVAR MIND

I found a store on eBay that I can get ampoules of gases from, including argon and such.


I do have a little high-voltage power-supply I got from United Nuclear. If burning hydrogen isn't dangerous, maybe I'll try it. However, my supply only goes down to 1,000 volts.

if 11 volts is intense, I can only assume I will have a big amount of hydrogen waiting to burn my face off.
There are several online element collecting supply stores
http://www.element-collection.com/
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Old 09-06-08, 06:26 PM   #10
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NEVAR MIND

I found a store on eBay that I can get ampoules of gases from, including argon and such.

Now, I know a lot of people are more trusting than me....but how do you know they're not selling you little ampules of air?
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Old 09-06-08, 06:33 PM   #11
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There are several online element collecting supply stores
http://www.element-collection.com/


I'll give it to them that that they have a lot of hard-to-find elements, but daaaaaang! $35 for .5g of sodium or K? I have an obsession with dropping sodium and K into all sorts of water configurations, and I know that UN has 1oz (~28g) samples of sodium for $27 and 5g samples of potassium for $47.

That said, their boxed element collection is sexy but I've made my nearly complete set for around $700 versus their $2,000.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:34 PM   #12
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Now, I know a lot of people are more trusting than me....but how do you know they're not selling you little ampules of air?
Throw them into a fire.

Other than that, you don't. Ignorance is bliss.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:35 PM   #13
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it's that easy...

I just don't remember which gas collects at which terminal...
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Old 09-06-08, 06:40 PM   #14
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How disappointing.

I was thinking this thread was about permanent hair removal.
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Old 09-06-08, 06:54 PM   #15
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- Collect Hydrogen with an upside down 2ltr soda bottle.
- Fill baloon with water.
- Submerge water filled ballon and attach to soda bottle.
- Turn baloon and bottle.
- Wait for water from baloon to fall into bottle, and hydrogen from water to fill baloon.
- Remove baloon, atach string, give to wife.
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Old 09-06-08, 07:57 PM   #16
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Or you could throw some aluminium into lye and water.
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Old 09-06-08, 08:10 PM   #17
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I ask this because there's no way of knowing if your getting a vial full of hydrogen or completely full of lame air. Thanks!
Flaming splint.

It should go pop.
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Old 09-06-08, 08:12 PM   #18
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Ben is absolutely correct. You'll know that you're getting hydrogen if...

- The water gets warm. Electrolysis makes mostly heat! It will bring the water right to a boil.
- Unless you're using the most filtered, most purified water, the electrodes or even the top of the water surface will be brown from all of the minerals in solution. Come to think of it, electrolysis probably wouldn't work with distilled water, since you need some sort of electrolyte to help the current flow. I used table salt, but that's a bad idea since you'll be creating chlorine gas. Use baking soda or KCL
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Old 09-06-08, 08:14 PM   #19
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And FWI: Increasing the voltage won't necessarily make more gas. Current is what makes electrolysis work, not voltage. Unless of course you have voltage AND current. Well, then you'll be in business!
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Old 09-06-08, 08:19 PM   #20
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And FWI: Increasing the voltage won't necessarily make more gas. Current is what makes electrolysis work, not voltage. Unless of course you have voltage AND current. Well, then you'll be in business!
Ah, then.

Well I'm off to crank my supply up to 60,000 volts to watch the electricity.
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Old 09-06-08, 09:14 PM   #21
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NEVAR MIND

I found a store on eBay that I can get ampoules of gases from, including argon and such.


I do have a little high-voltage power-supply I got from United Nuclear. If burning hydrogen isn't dangerous, maybe I'll try it. However, my supply only goes down to 1,000 volts.

If 11 volts is intense, I can only assume I will have a big amount of hydrogen waiting to burn my face off.

EDIT- I don't even know if I can use my supply though. Seems like I'd have to jerry-rig something to get it to work. I've only been using it to make x-ray tubes.
Lots of people convert PC power supplies into lab bench supplies. I did. Also vids of people using them for electrolysis.
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Old 09-06-08, 09:34 PM   #22
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People, it's not gonna explode in your face! I have filled ballons with the stuff and popped them with a lighter... no explosion so far, just a pretty flame that last microseconds.
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Old 09-06-08, 09:47 PM   #23
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I'll give it to them that that they have a lot of hard-to-find elements, but daaaaaang! $35 for .5g of sodium or K? I have an obsession with dropping sodium and K into all sorts of water configurations, and I know that UN has 1oz (~28g) samples of sodium for $27 and 5g samples of potassium for $47.

That said, their boxed element collection is sexy but I've made my nearly complete set for around $700 versus their $2,000.
Fair enough.
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Old 09-06-08, 09:53 PM   #24
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Fair enough.
I was just looking at their cesium samples. 5g for $225, UN has 1g for $125.

Cesium is $45 a gram on that site while United Nuclear has it for $125 a gram.... hmmm. I hear cesium is ridiculously reactive. I haven't gotten my grubby hands on some yet, so I may have to get some from them.

EDIT- I should make my own francium. If I only had the materials....
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Old 09-06-08, 09:55 PM   #25
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it's that easy...

I just don't remember which gas collects at which terminal...
I can't swear I remember correctly but I think it's the the vial that has the larger volume of gas is the one that contains hydrogen. Two Hs for one O. However O2 being the larger atom I may be wrong.
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