Some of the tough chemical experiments

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Close up of group of beakers with chemical reactions in laboratory. Copy space. Focus is on beaker with pink liquid.

Chemistry is fun, exciting, and rewarding. It can be tough at times though. What do you know about some of the more difficult chemical experiments? 

They’re not always easy to understand, even for seasoned chemists. In this blog post I will try to break down some of the tougher chemistry experiments for those eager to go deeper into their education. 

Let’s start with a bang: hydrogen cyanide! If you’ve ever done a lab project requiring this chemical then you’ll know that it’s an unpleasant smell that tends to linger after your experiment is finished. 

Here you can interpret your experimental data to determine which diacetylferrocene isomer forms.

It’s also one of the deadliest chemicals, causing death by asphyxiation in less than a minute. It’s only used in manufacturing plants and labs because of its extreme toxicity.

Hydrogen cyanide is a poisonous gas found naturally in some fresh-water algae and bacteria. It is a colorless liquid at room temperature which is extracted from these sources to be used as a chemical for industrial purposes. 

Most cyanides are soluble in water, but hydrogen cyanide or HCN is highly volatile and cannot be stored as aqueous solutions.

Here are some points discussed about Some of the tough chemical experiments-

1. Hydrogen cyanide is the deadliest chemical on the planet. 

No pesticides are more dangerous than hydrogen cyanide. Its toxicity was used in gas chambers during WW2 German concentration camps, and its use in Vietnam was considered unethical by the U.S. military (almost like today). 

It was also used by North Vietnamese soldiers to kill American soldiers during the Vietnam War, almost like today again! The chemical’s nasty smell alone can make you want to swear off chemistry forever! 

2. Asphyxiation is the cause of death.

People may laugh at that claim but if you’ve ever smelled hydrogen cyanide then you know why this chemical is so deadly. 

A quick whiff of the odorless gas is enough to overcome your body. The airway starts to swell, effectively closing it off, leaving you unable to breathe! 

You will die from asphyxiation in less than a minute. Though it’s not as fast as poison gas, it’s still pretty quick! 

3. The formula for hydrogen cyanide is HCN.

Hence the name “cyanide” which is a combination of cyano and ion (“ion” means a molecule with a positive or negative charge) hence a cyanide molecule. 

Cyanide molecules tend to bond with oxygen, which makes them highly toxic to many organisms. 

Hydrogen cyanide can be found in water supplies and is highly poisonous when inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin. 

4. There are a number of tools for detecting cyanide gas. 

Both the human nose and some laboratory tools can detect hydrogen cyanide before it has a chance to take effect. 

Acetonitrile is a common substance that has been linked to detecting hydrogen cyanide by smell alone. When you smell a chemical that reminds you of cherry syrup then you’re probably smelling hydrogen cyanide! 

Laboratory tools available for detecting this gas include photometers, spectrophotometers, and colorimeters. 

These machines use wavelengths of light to distinguish between various chemicals in the air, including HCN from other common gases such as oxygen or carbon monoxide. 

5. The effects of hydrogen cyanide will vary depending on the organism’s.

Many organisms can become immune to hydrogen cyanide after chronic exposure when their body processes break it into smaller molecules such as carbon dioxide and water. 

Cyanide poisoning in humans can occur in a number of ways, but almonds and apple seeds, among other foods, contain a chemical known as amygdalin which can release HCN if consumed. 

It’s also interesting to note that acute cyanide poisoning is rare because HCN is an extremely volatile and reactive gas and has no taste or smell (which means you won’t know you’ve been poisoned unless your lab partner tells you!). 

6. Hydrogen cyanide is not exclusive to humans. 

The chemical is found in the bodies of many different animals including fish, amphibians, mammals, birds and insects. The poison is also found in the roots of certain plants such as almonds and apple seeds. 

It’s quite a fascinating concept that hydrogen cyanide can be found in some fruit! Actually quite a few animals have their own poison sacs which contain this chemical. The poison sacs are used in defense mechanisms much like our own tear ducts. 

7. Lake Nyos, Cameroon is a lake containing one of the biggest mysteries ever. 

In 1986, Lake Nyos lost its equilibrium and released a cloud of carbon dioxide which asphyxiated more than 1700 people. This event has been called “The Lake Nyos Disaster”. 

Many scientists and researchers have traveled to Cameroon to try and explain what happened but there is still no good answer for this phenomenon and it remains an ongoing mystery.

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