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9 Comments

  1. Luis Dartnell is an excellent author and I have completed most items in his book. Such as making soap, candles, a blast furnace, slag, coke, cement, charcoal, and gunpowder. There’s so much more from that book other than chemistry compounds to construct. Really is on my top ten list.

  2. Thank you, thank you, 3ADScout! This is very valuable information for those of us who may not be very science-oriented. You’ve taken some of the fear away and suggested some great resources.

  3. Agree, thanks for sharing! 10th grade chem class was a looooong time ago. This is great info. I especislly like the descriptions on how to manufacture some of the materials.

  4. “Burning” sulfur mixed with saltpeter (potassium nitrate) will generate a mixture of sulfuric acid with nitric acid, the proportions of which will depend on the proportion of sulfur to saltpeter. This could prove to be catastrophic in some situations. Reactions of mixed acid with organic material include spontaneous combustion and/or violent explosion.

    You would be far better off collecting old car batteries and boiling the electrolyte until white fumes begin to appear. In all cases, it would be prudent to wear a full face respirator with ‘acid gas’ cartridges (which are often yellow but not always) as well as PVC gloves and apron. If you are looking to rejuvenate batteries, it would also be a good idea to get a hydrometer and learn about the specific gravity of lead acid cell electrolytes. pH paper will not tell you the strength of the acid. Pure H2SO4 has a specific gravity of 1.84.

    Also, please note that anti-freeze is usually ethylene or propylene glycol, not glycerine.

    I do appreciate the author’s attempt to educate the readership about the usefulness of understanding basic chemistry. I do encourage everyone to pursue further research on the topics that may prove to be extremely useful in the future.

    1. Doc thanks for the diplomatic response and additional information. You are correct that most anti-freeze available on today’s retail market is not glycerin based. I totally agree that collecting Batteries would be easier but again the article was to bring awareness of chemistry as a prepper skill.

      I am a little confused on the Sulfur and potassium nitrate. Would the variable be the heat applied in the burning of the mixture? I would think that would be an extremely high temp? Any information on this would be much appreciated.

  5. Advise on Lye:

    When working with potassium or sodium hydroxide (lye, caustic, etc.) I find it helpful to have vinegar close at hand to neutralize any spills. The apple cider vinegar 3AD mentioned is acidic and will neutralize bases like the lye.

    Second, if you spill some on yourself it will not necessarily burn right away, but it WILL burn later. Wash it off or neutralize immediately, base burns are sneaky. Ask a cement mason.

    Lastly, lye reactions are exothermic, which is fancy chemistry speak for HOT.

    If you don’t have access to citric acid, you will need vinegar for canning.

    Thanks 3AD, I didn’t know several of these. Where can one source sulfur?

  6. Small quantities of sulfur can be found in some drug stores (except most of the national chains). Larger quantities (5 lb. bags) can be found at nurseries / garden centers.

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