|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
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, Jeremy.
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