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Making high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at home

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Hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff you can pick up from a drug store or beauty supply store – is one of those very interesting chemicals that belongs on every maker’s cabinet. At concentrations of about 30%, it’s perfect for etching PCB boards, and at even higher concentrations – about 70% – it can be used as rocket fuel. Unfortunately for the home hacker, it’s very difficult and expensive to obtain peroxide in concentrations above 3% or so. That’s alright with [Charlie], though, because he’s come up with a way to concentrate peroxide and measure the concentration once he’s done.

There are a few YouTube videos of kitchen chemists concentrating peroxide by heating it on a stove to just under 100°C. Because hydrogen peroxide boils at 150°C, they’re simply boiling off the water and increasing the concentration of peroxide. This is a qualitative method, and you’ll never know what concentration you’re getting. [Charlie] rigged up a small-scale with a pipette to measure the weight of his concentrated peroxide per unit of volume, giving him the density of his concoction and thus the concentration.

We have to note that concentrated peroxide is dangerous stuff, but the results of [Charlie]‘s lab work aren’t much more dangerous than what hair stylists work with every day. If you’re going for high-test peroxide, good job, that’s awesome, but do be aware of the risks.

Comments

  1. luckybot says:

    Hydroponics stores and sometimes pool stores carry hydrogen peroxide at 30%.

  2. Arthur says:

    In the UK trying this sort of thing may get the attention of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, given the recent past history of terrorists trying to use peroxide derived explosives. Just something to be aware of.

  3. Matt says:

    It warms my heart that he propagated his error and used an actual paper for his density-concentration curve instead of just using wikipedia.

  4. cevat candar says:

    hydrogen peroxide also good for removing yellowish stain on computer plastic parts

  5. Quin says:

    Getting 12% isn’t hard, it’s called #40 activator from the hair salon supply store.

  6. Jax Coldwolf says:

    As a user of Retr0bright, I recently needed to find higher than average concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as well. What I discovered was 5 gallon drums of 30% for sale from a local industrial cleaning supply place. It’s sold under the brand “Max lift” and, according to the MSDS sheet, is nothing more than hydrogen peroxide and water. I think they expect dry cleaners to buy it.

    IIRC it was about $100 for a bucket of the stuff. That may sound like a lot, but it’s much cheaper than buying 50 gallons of 3% and distilling it to get the same 5 gallons of 30%

    Hopefully this’ll prove beneficial to someone.

  7. James says:

    Huh, this must be about the first time I’ve seen that somebody in the US says it’s hard to get a chemical, while here in NZ our domestic ebay type site has several sellers of 35% h202 in 1, 2 and 5L quantities. A Litre of 35% would cost me about $20 US equivalent, including shipping.

    Just looked on ebay.com and quite interesting, 35% listings in the UK, but none in the US, looks like you guys don’t sell over about 17%. Is there some law preventing the sale of higher concentrations, or is there maybe just no market for it.

    • Rob says:

      One of the reasons is that 30%+ H2O2 mixed with acetone gives you triacetonetriperoxide and/or a big explosion. It is this reaction that caused the banning of liquids on carry on luggage in planes.

      • matt says:

        I thought you needed sulfuric acid too to make TATP

      • Megol says:

        You don’t need 30% peroxide to make an explosive, 3% is more than enough.
        But seriously anybody making such a dangerous mixture should be considered insane. There are stronger explosives that are just a bit more complicated to make and have the advantage of not exploding by its own weight, exploding due to crystallization (which can increase inner strain) or explode due to light (!) pressure changes static electricity or the color of ones clothes. Ok, I made the last thing up on the spot but wouldn’t be surprised if TATP reacted with some coloring agents.
        BTW here I can order 55% H2O2 without any problem or buy 20% locally.

        • MikrySoft says:

          Worst part about TATP is that it sublimates – leave some in a jar and it will sublimate and recrystalize in the threads. Say goodbye to your hands when you want to open it. But I agree, making nicer explosives is very easy, RDX is just hexamine (fuel tablets) with nitric acid – all you need then are some plasticizers and you have C4 or Semtex.

    • defaultex says:

      We have an abundance of people in the US that are just too stupid for their own good. For example mixing bleach, drano, and water creates a visible gas that almost instantly gives you an intense headache, stay exposed long enough and the headache goes away while euphoria sets in, even longer and your either in a coma or dead. The average reaction to this is not to vent the area, it’s to sit in the gas filled home while complaining about how much it makes their nose sting.

      It seems like common sense, if it makes your nose sting, you should not be breathing it, but never underestimate stupidity.

  8. Kyle says:

    Look at the “note to self” safety message he left on the peg board
    “Wear yer apron and ya might not have to get nekkid during a spill” [sic]
    =)

  9. Me says:

    Be careful with peroxide, I work regularly with high concentration HP from 35 to 75%, and it can be dangerous. Keep away from organic materials if you don’t want to burn your house down !

  10. g7gij says:

    This statement is incorrect “Because hydrogen peroxide boils at 150°C, they’re simply boiling off the water and increasing the concentration of peroxide”

    H2O2 does decomposes into water and oxygen slowly a room temperature if you try to distill it, by boiling it you increase the rate of decomposition. This is why you can never
    get rocket fuel from low volume H2O2. There is a much better method of peroxide
    determination by iodometric titration, here’s a good reference its method 2
    http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/spivey/documents/iodometric.pdf

  11. starsky says:

    terrorist protection.

    cant buy iodide crystal, or over 2% anymore either…

    http://farmwars.info/?p=9963

  12. ejonesss says:

    you know you can place the stuff in the freezer and separate the water from it

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applejack_(beverage)

    applejack used to be made that way they would would leave the raw liquor mash in the cold and skim off the ice/slush

    i think you can do the same thing with soda leave a bottle of soda in the freezer too long and you get ice and slush and remove the ice slush and you should be left with the soda syrup.

  13. Tom says:

    In The Netherlands it’s very easy to buy 30% H2O2 (euro 8,32/l); most on-line pharmacies have it in stock. The same goes for 30% HCl (euro 8,8/l), sulphur (euro 5,51/800g) and many other fun chemicals.

  14. Måns says:

    How about using a closed system and a simple vaccum pump and then make the destillation at room temperature? If the vaccum pump does not get damaged by the rather agressive hydrogen peroxide it should work.

  15. mike says:

    i had to do this a few weeks ago for ap chem. we had to find the concentration of sugar in 7up assuming it was just a solution of sugar water. we had to do something like find the difference in the density of water and sugar and then do some other calculations to get the right answer by comparing the masses and densities. the special part we did with the difference in density gave us accurate results, while everyone was off by a good 6%

  16. f.r0ze.n says:

    too dangerous, don’t keep it at your home
    that’s what sank the Kursk submarine, it’s a highly unstable stuff and will burn your house down or just explode in your face
    in a word: don’t

  17. sneha says:

    it is very dangerus

  18. sam says:

    What percentage did germans used in the h2o2 subs…also how did they work..i understand it was enought to burn underwater and provide water
    and some o2.

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