MadSci Network: Chemistry Query:

### Re: how do I measure tar and nicotine

Date: Fri Feb 22 11:08:03 2002
Posted By: Jerry Franzen, Faculty, Chemistry, Thomas More College
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1009831762.Ch
Message:
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OR someone with more expertise to construct the answer.  But I'll make an
attempt at it.

I presume that when you use the term "cartridge filter system" you mean
the usual filter found at the end of a "filter" cigarette.  My answer will
also require that you have a balance available. I also presume that when
you say that you want to measure the amount of nicotine and tar trapped
that you are just interested in the total amount of the two and not the
individual amounts of these two items.  The individual amounts would
require more sophisticated techniques and more expertise than I have.

So here goes. Ideally one would like to determine the mass of the filter
system before any smoke passed through it and then determine the mass
after all of the smoke passed through it.  The difference between these
two would be the amount of material trapped.  In this way, you would be
determining the amount of all the material trapped which might be more
that just the nicotine and tar.

Unfortunately one cannot separate the filter from the cigarette to get its
mass and then reattach it, so that the smoke from the cigarette can be
channeled through it.  I suggest that you determine the average mass of an
unused filter by cutting the filter off of several unsmoked cigarettes.
get the mass of each filter (maybe 10 filters), sum the masses and divide
the sum by the number of filters used.

Then you would somehow (see below) "smoke" a number of cigarettes (again
maybe 10)OF THE SAME BRAND, cut the filters from whatever is left of the
smoked cigarettes and weigh these, get the average and subtract the
average mass of an unused filter from the average mass of a used filter.

Of course, I do not advocate you or anyone else actually smoking the
cigarettes.  You would need some way of drawing a SLOW stream of air
through each cigatette while it is lit.  In the laboratory, I would use an
aspirator system attached to a water outlet.  If you have one available to
you AND it is in a well ventilated area, that could be your artificial way
of "smoking" the cigarettes.  You might be able to rig up something with
an OLD vacuum cleaner that had a hose (remember a SLOW stream of air).
All of that smoke would probably not be good for a vacuum cleaner that you
would want to use again as a vacuum cleaner.

If you would want to compare brands, you would have to follow this whole
procedure for each brand, since the filters on different brands might have
different average masses.

```

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