(laughing gas) is most commonly made by the thermal
>decomposition of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). The chief
>of the product is N2, although, NO2, N, O2, and CO2 may
also be present,
>however, usually not in any quantity to approach toxcity.
>mixture is passed through water for purification.
You left out NO (nitric oxide), NH3 (ammonia), and H2O (water
-- the other product of the successful reaction). Laughing
Gas also states that the temperature (optimum or self-regulating,
I don't know) for the reaction is 240 C. But they caution
against trying it at home:
Occaionally, following in the footsteps of Priestly and Davy,
individuals attempt to synthesize N2O. This is definitely
not recommended, for several reasons. First, the synthetic
process frequently employed (heating ammonium nitrate) may
lead to an explosion, and has been the cause of major accidents
and numerous injuries in the industrial synthesis of N2O.
Second, other oxides of nitrogen may be obtained as byproducts
of the synthetic process. One of these, nitrogen dioxide,
is extremely toxic, and can lead to rapid destruction of lung
tissue, even if inhaled in small quantities.
From what I read on rec.pyrotechnics, nitrogen dioxide lung
damage is permanant and cumulative. Laughing Gas also states
that the boiling point of N2O is -88.44 C and that the partial
pressure at 27.4 C is 60 atm (!). Does that mean those little
whippits can withstand 60 atm?? I tend to think the danger
of explosion is low if you keep the pressure down. The "Dr.
Atomic" cartoon instructions even go so far as to make
it an open system -- the end is a plastic bag loosely held
over the last hose. The good doctor says that you should only
synthesize it if you are a professional chemist working under
controlled laboratory conditions, but in the picture there
is a home setup using three flasks. The first one contains
the NH4NO3 and is heated. The third is a "bong"
type device which bubbles the gas through water. The second
is a trap to prevent the "bong" water from reaching
the heated flask under negative pressure.
I wouldn't really worry about inhaling small quantities of
ammonia, but I'd like to figure out a way to neutralize the
NO and NO2. Would they react with baking soda (in the bubble
flask)? The PYRO file from rec.pyrotechnics lists two sources
of ammonium nitrate. One is fertilizer, the other is "instant
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