Nitric acid is used in the preparation of many explosives, incendiary mixtures, and acid Delay timers. It may be prepared by distilling a mixture of potassium nitrate and concentrated sulfuric acid. MATERIAL REQUIRED: SOURCES:
Potassium nitrate (2 parts by volume)
Concentrated sulfuric acid (1 part by volume) 2 bottles or ceramic jugs (narrow necks are preferable) Pot or frying pan
Heat source (wood, coal, or charcoal)
Tape (paper, electrical, masking, etc. but not cellophane) Paper or rags
IMPORTANT: If sulfuric acid is obtained from a motor vehide battery, concentrate it by boiling it until white fumes appear. DO NOT INHALE FUMES.
NOTE: The amount of nitric acid produced is the same as the amount of potaasium nitrate. Thus, for 2 tablespoonsful of nitric acid, use 2 tablespoonsful of potassium nitrate and 1 tablespoonsful of concentrated sulfuric acid.
1. Place dry potassium nitrate in bottle or jug. Add sulfuric add. Do not fill bottle more than 1/4 full. Mix until paste Is formed.
Bottle or Jug, less than 1/4 Full
Paste of Potassium Nitrate and Concentrated Sulfuric Acid
CAUTION: Sulfuric acid will bum skin and destroy clothing. If any is spilled, wash it away with a large quantity of water. Fumes are also dangerous and should not be inhaled.
2. Wrap paper or rags around necks of 2 bottles. Securely tape necks of bottles together. Be sure bottles are flush against each other and that there are no air spaces.
Necks of Bottles
3. Support bottles on rocks or cans so that empty bottle is slightly lower than bottle containing paste so that nitric acid that is formed in receiving bottle will not run into other bottle.
Rocks or Can Supports
5. Gently heat bottle containing mixture by moving fire in and out. As red fumes begin to appear periodically pour cool water over empty receiving bottle. Nitric acid will begin to form in the receiving bottle.
i>. Continue the above process until no more red fumes are formed. If the nitric acid formed in the receiving bottle is not clear (cloudy) pour it into cleaned bottle and repeat Steps 2-6.
CAUTION: Nitric acid will burn skin and destroy clothing. If any is spilled, wash it away with a large quantity of water. Fumes are also dangerous and should not be inhaled.
Nitric acid should be kept away from all combustibles and should be kept in a sealed ceramic or glass container.
Was this article helpful?