How To Make Chloroform
Chloroform, formula CHCl3, is an organic compound. It’s considered as a dangerous, hazardous chemical. Fatal oral dose of chloroform may be as low as 10 ml (14.8 g), with death due to respiratory or cardiac arrest. If chloroform within a glass container shines under sunlight or it reacts with oxygen, it yields a chemical gas, phosgene, which when inhales will cause irreparable damage to your body organs, even more serious and fatal such as coma and death. However, Irrespective of its harmful effects, Chloroform is used as a solvent in the pharmaceutical industry and for producing dyes, refrigerants, pesticides, disinfectants, etc.
In industry, chloroform is produced by heating a mixture of chlorine and either chloromethane or methane. At 400–500 °C, a free radical halogenations occurs, converting these precursors to progressively more chlorinated compounds:
CH4 + Cl2 → CH3Cl + HCl
CH3Cl + Cl2 → CH2Cl2 + HCl
CH2Cl2 + Cl2 → CHCl3 + HCl
The output, chloroform CHCl3 can then be separated by distillation.
Today, with enough preparation and materials, we can easily produce chloroform at home. WARNING: As we usually drive, people always say SAFETY is the first priority. Due to the danger of producing chloroform, safety is also the top priority while you do so. Work gloves, work goggles and dust masks are must. A strong ventilation system is also helpful.
Before producing chloroform, please have the following items ready:
- Pure acetone
- Glass container (prefer to use a transparent one, easy to observe chemical reaction)
How To Make Chloroform - Procedure:
- Put as much ice as possible in the glass container. Ice will act as a coolant while bleach reacts with acetone in the latter steps.
- Pour some bleach in the glass container, i.e. 500 ml.
- Pour some acetone in the glass container with an acetone to bleach proportion 1:50, i.e. 10 ml.
- When chemical reaction occurs, heat increases drastically. Ice needs to be added as required to keep temperature low and avoid overheat.
- Allow the chemical reaction to last for at least 20 minutes. Must stand by to observe the course.
- Once reaction settled, chloroform forms as a white powder residue at the bottom.
- Carefully pour the solution out of the glass container. Make sure chloroform stays in the glass container.
- Use funnel to extract the chloroform powder from the glass container.
Chloroform powder must store in a dark brown glass container. It’s not recommended to store more than one week. Also avoid contact the container with sunlight. During prolonged storage in the presence of oxygen, chloroform converts slowly to phosgene.