How to make nitrous oxide in a laboratory

Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas with a sweet smell and a sweet taste to it. The gas is used primarily as an anesthetic in surgical operations and is also produced on a mass scale for a number of different reasons. These instructions will make nitrous oxide but not in a pure form and it should only be made and used for the purpose of experimentation DO NOT consider it safe for consumption or for making whipping cream (eg. in the way that cream chargers are used)

When Joseph Priestley first created nitrous oxide, he did so by heating ammonium nitrate to a very high degree, in a chamber with iron filings placed inside. Then, when a gas was released by the heating process, Priestley made use of the apparatus created by Stephen Hales in order to pass the gas through a chamber with water, which effectively resulted in the removal of any by- product of toxic nature from the gas. At the end of the reaction, the gas that was left behind was nitrous oxide. Nowadays, the process to make nitrous oxide is by and large the same it was a couple of centuries ago. However, if you are looking to make nitrous oxide gas, it is important that you have prior experience of making gases in the chemistry lab, because the process is not exactly safe. Here’s how to make nitrous oxide in a laboratory:

–          Gently begin to heat ammonium nitrate between temperatures ranging from 170 degrees Celsius to 240 degrees Celsius. If ammonium nitrate is heated to a higher temperature than mentioned, it might explode. However, the process is not difficult at all, as history states that no accident has occurred for the past 150 years.

–          The next thing you need to do is to cool down the hot gases in order for the water to condense. In order to accomplish this step, using a pneumatic trough would be the best idea. A pneumatic trough can help you connect the ammonium nitrate through a tube to water. Hence, because of the water, the gas causes bubbles in the water.

–          Remember, the gas needs to create just one or two bubbles per second if you want it to be completely free of any impurities or toxic by- products. Connect a collection jar to the pneumatic trough, and what you are left with is nitrous oxide in the collection jar.

–          However, there are other nitrogen oxides that are also present along with nitrous oxide too, such as nitric oxide as well as nitrogen monoxide. When exposed to oxygen, nitric oxide is also oxidized to make nitrous oxide. Keep waiting till the collection jar is full of gas, at which point you must stop heating the ammonium nitrate and cover the collection jar in order to make sure that the gas does not escape.

There are several precautions that must be kept in mind as well. First of all, make sure you get only the purest form of ammonium nitrate that you can find. Higher quality material means that there will be a lesser number of impurities, resulting in a better discharge of gas. Also, make sure you don’t begin to rapidly heat the ammonium nitrate.