Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Five major steps in the recrystallization process ( Dissolving the solute in the solvent Performing a gravity filtration, if necessary Collecting the solute crystals by vacuum filtration Drying the resulting crystals Answers to common questions about the experiment)

  • Dissolving the solute in the solvent
  • Performing a gravity filtration, if necessary
  • Collecting the solute crystals by vacuum filtration
  • Drying the resulting crystals
  • Answers to common questions about the experiment

1.    Dissolving the solute in the solvent
  • Add a minimum amount of boiling solvent to the beaker that contains the impure sample. Minimum amount of solvent will make sure that once your sample is dissolved, it will have a high concentration. High concentration is a must if you need t get crystals from it. If your solution is to dilute, you will have problems in getting a good yield. Always keep control over the amount of solvent you add.
  • Heat the beaker containing the solute and continue adding boiling solvent incrementally until all of the solute has been dissolved. If additional solvent can be added with no appreciable change in the amount of solute present, the particulate matter is probably insoluble impurities.
  • If the compound has colored impurities, you can add activated charcoal. DO NOT add activated charcoal to a boiling solution.

Activated carbon has large number of small pores and air is trapped in it. If you add them in to boiling solvent, all that air is going to expand at once and your solvent will boil off.

2.    Hot Gravity Filtration

* This step is optional if there is no visible particulate matter and the solution is the expected color (most organic compounds are white or light yellow). If you added activated charcoal, you must do gravity filtration.

* Fluted filter paper gives increased surface area for filtering. It can speed up the filtering process because of the increased surface area. A stemless funnel is used for hot gravity filtration. A funnel with a stem is prone to premature recrystallization inside the stem because the filtrate can cool as it passes through the stem. At these cooler temperatures, crystals are likely to form.

* If the funnel was properly heated before filtration, all of the solution will have passed through and no crystals will have formed on the paper or in the funnel. If crystals have formed, pouring a small amount of boiling solvent through the funnel will dissolve these. If the solution is still discolored after using activated carbon and filtering, either the color is from the compound and will not go away or you need to repeat the step with the addition of activated carbon.
* The solution should be allowed to cool slowly to room temperature. Gradual cooling is conducive to the formation of large, well-defined crystals.

1.    Vacuum Filtration

When you are asked to draw any kind of a diagram, make sure you label each and every thing on your diagram. This is a point where lot of students lose marks!

* You have to agitate the crystals with a fire polished glass-stirring rod before pouring the mother-liquor along with the crystals through the Buchner funnel. Apply the maximum amount of suction possible using the aspirator.
* Some crystals may have been left behind in the beaker; there are two ways to affect a quantitative transfer of all of this material. Either use a portion of the filtrate to rinse the beaker or use a rubber policeman on the end of your stirring rod to scrape the remaining crystals into the Buchner funnel.
* When the crystals have been collected and washed, allow the aspirator to run for several minutes so that the crystals have an opportunity to dry.

2.    Drying the Crystals

* When the crystals have been dried as much as possible in the Buchner funnel, use a scoopula to remove them to a beaker or crystallizing dish together with the filter paper. DO NOT try to remove the crystals until they dry completely. This will ensure that the crystals are not contaminated by filter paper fibers as they dry.
* Spreading the crystals out in a beaker or a crystallizing dish will provide for the most efficient drying as the crystals will have a maximum of exposed surface area.
* When the crystals are dried, the purity of the sample can be measured by performing a melting point determination.

Melting point apparatus

3.    What to do if crystals don't form

* If crystals don't form upon slow cooling of the solution to room temperature there are a variety of procedures you can perform to stimulate their growth. First, the solution should be cooled in an ice bath. Slow cooling of the solution leads to slow formation of crystals and the slower crystals form, the more pure they are. Rate of crystallization slows as temperature decreases so cooling with an ice bath should only be used until crystals begin to form; after they do, the solution should be allowed to warm to room temperature so crystal formation occurs more slowly. If no crystals form even after the solution has been cooled in an ice bath, take a fire polished stirring rod and etch (scratch) the glass of your beaker. The small pieces of glass that are etched off of the beaker serve as nuclei for crystal formation. If crystals still do not form, take a small amount of your solution and spread it on a watch glass. After the solvent evaporates, the crystals that are left behind can serve as seeds for further crystallization. Both these methods of nucleation (i.e. etching and seed crystals) cause very rapid crystallization, which can lead to the formation of impure crystals.
* Crystals will not form if there is a large excess of solvent. If no crystals form with the methods already discussed, a portion of the solvent may need to be removed. This can be accomplished by heating the solution for a period of time in order to evaporate some solvent. The new, concentrated solution, should be cooled, and the previously mentioned methods to stimulate crystallization should again be attempted.
* Another potential problem in recrystallization is that the solute sometimes comes out of solution in the form of impure oil instead of forming purified crystals. This usually happens when the boiling point of the solvent is higher than the melting point of the compound, but this is not the only scenario in which this problem presents itself. If this begins to happen, cooling the solution will not stimulate crystallization, it will make the problem worse. If an oil begins to form, heat the solution until the oil portion dissolves and let the whole solution cool. As the oil begins to form again, stir the solution vigorously to break up the oil. The tiny beads of oil that result from this shaking may act as the nuclei for new crystal formation.


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