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Advanced iron oxide production questions

  1. Jan 12, 2016 #1
    Hi guys,
    I've lurked the forums for a while and read various other iron oxide production threads But I have a few questions nobody ever brought up that I could see

    Typing this up on my phone, so forgive me if autocorrect and punctuation is wacky

    I plan on producing a larger amount of iron oxide, for use with thermite eventually

    I would like to use what I have available for the first thermite batchs
    Later on I will buy premade due to cost, but I'd like to be able to produce everything from scratch

    I work in a machine shop, and have a pretty large amount of swarf ( metal saw dust)
    the chips average the size of a grain of sand, but are very thin and curled Over so more surface area Than a grain of sand, but much less than #0000 steel wool

    The alloy is 4140 for what it's worth, my understanding is has a bit of chromium in it, Not sure if this will affect the reaction

    I've already done a few small trial runs using about 1/4 cup of swarf, Using half chlorox concentrated and vinegar, produced some iron oxide, tried to filter using coffee filters, totally gummed up and failed at reclaiming most of it, so I'm not sure how much it actually produced, I salvaged about 2 teaspoons

    For what it's worth, I could not get the swarf to fully disolve

    I'm wondering if this is even possible

    I would like to fully disolve and reclaim as much as possible, but if isn't realistic, I have enough Swarf to still get a sizeable amount even if can't get it to Fully disolve
    (5 gallons of so currently)

    Couple questions
    Is it possible to use the electrolysis method? given that it's granular in form? I assume I need electrical contact to all of the material which would be problematic

    Second, I would like to do a larger batch all at once,
    Say 4 cups of swarf
    In my small scale the reaction was mildly exothermic, will this intensify with scale?

    The swarf is currently contaminated with light oil and coolant, I know I can't get most of it off by rinsing with hot water a few times and recycling the water a few times, how critical is this? Would contamination slow or limit the reaction and prevent a full disolve?

    I understand the reaction produced chlorine gas, and that it's bad
    In my small scale, I used bottled water container and sealed it, it barely built up some pressure, but I released it occasionally,

    Should I be releasing the gas pressure? Or would it be more efficient to not

    I worry about a larger batch producing more pressure in a sealed vessel, I don't want a 3 liter bottle exploding

    In my small tests, I only added about 1-1/2 cup of solution to 1/4 cup swarf, after it finished reacting, I poured off the liquid and added more solution, not sure of the reaction the second time compared to the first, it was super cold outside and it think it slowed it down

    Should I pour off and add new solution when it stops or?

    To reclaim the Iron oxide, I am now considering pouring several batches into a gallon jug, letting it settle, and siphoning out the liquid and adding fresh water several times to rinse the chemicals off the iron oxide,

    I don't always have good sunlight in my area and it's currently winter so I was considering using an oven Or hot plate to dry what settles after I rinse it

    What would be my best Container option here? Also any risk of chlorine gasses indoors coming from the particulates while they dry?

    Any advice to remove carbon or other waste?
    I never saw the black film most people talk about on top of the liquid, but my first attempts at reclaiming fell apart so I could have been filtered in the original coffee filter that got pitched

    Thanks for any input guys
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What do you plan to do with all of that thermite?
  4. Jan 12, 2016 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Just DO NOT DO THIS!
  5. Jan 12, 2016 #4
    Thermite welding is something I would like to try with some of this batch, besides just demonstrating thermite in general
    On a safe private Area
    Only planning to produce about 2-3 pounds nothing crazy

    Only going to use small amounts at a time,

    I'm no stranger to thermite, I've used it before, this has just become a pet project in that I want to make a batch completely from scratch ( I'm also working making aluminum powder from some aluminum chips we have at the shop)

    It's mostly just the personal satisfaction of making it from stuff we normally discard, I can easily get the components premade, but I enjoy being able to say I made something
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  6. Jan 13, 2016 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    This falls under the dangerous activities rule. Thread closed.
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