MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What would form if you reacted acetic acid with sodium chlorate?

Date: Wed Oct 13 12:56:05 1999
Posted By: Jeremy Starr, Grad Student, Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 938262017.Ch

Hi Kevin,

Sodium chlorate is a strong oxidizer. Acetic acid is an organic compound. 
In general it is dangerous to mix strong oxidizers with organic materials 
because they can react violently and in unexpected ways. For example, 
potassium permanganate reacts violently with glycerol creating a shower of 
flames but when they are first mixed there appears to be little reaction. 
There is an induction period of a few seconds to a minute before any 
serious reaction occurs. 

I do not know if sodium chlorate reacts with acetic acid and I did not 
find a specific reference to the reaction in a brief look in the 
literature. However, glacial acetic acid _is_ a flammable liquid so I 
would recommend against experimenting with it and sodium chlorate unless 
you are a chemist with a laboratory and safety equipment. Dilute aqueous 
solutions of acetic acid (like vinegar) would be less prone to violent 
oxidation however I would exercise caution with these as well. 

Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is in equilibrium with its chemical 
precursors when in water solution. This equilibrium can be driven in the 
direction of the precursors releasing poisonous Cl2 gas under acidic 
conditions. Mixing bleach and vinegar (or household cleaners containing 
them) would be dangerous for this reason. Unless your sodium chlorite is 
highly purified it probably is contaminated with other chlorine oxides 
(like bleach) which present potential hazards when reacted with acid. 
Furthermore, the lower oxidation state chlorine oxides (bleach is one) are 
products of oxidation with chlorate and would be generated by any 
oxidation of the acetic acid by chlorate. 

The products of the oxidation of acetic acid with sodium chlorate would be 
numerous and dependent on the conditions of the reaction. 

I hope this info helps,

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