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March 30, 2017

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why would it be dangerous to heat a liquid in a distillation apparatus that had no vent or opening to the laboratory?

- is this because the liquid will create vapor pressure and could cause a serious injury to a student?

  • chem - ,

    - is this because the liquid will create vapor pressure and could cause a serious injury to a student?

    The likely hood is for the joints on the apparatus to come apart, possibly very rapidly, and the a large volume of the material to escape as a gas. If the apparatus is "quick fit" with ground glass joints then these are designed to take a vacuum and, with clips attached, a low positive pressure.

    There are a few occasions where distillation is carried out in a sealed apparatus. This is carried out with a vacuum line and is used where the material is very expensive or toxic or maybe unstable in the air and low boiling.

    If you are interested in reading further on these techniques see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlenk_line
    and some of the links in the article.

    also "Guide for the Perplexed Organic Experimentalist"
    by H J E Loewenthal.
    which was written for grad students but has some interesting insights.

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