A reader asked: “I was curious as to the reason for this article. I just don’t know what the uses are, if any, besides knocking people out – are there any?”
Such an important question… I responded:
“No, no other use. As of late, I have been reading a lot on the Civil War. One thing I noted was that Chloroform saved lives… It was essential. I do believe that we shouldn’t let skills fall to the wayside because of specialization. We should know how to save lives.
HOWEVER…. Chloroform is exceptionally dangerous and has numerous side effects which is why modern medicine doesn’t use it.”
By Garrett Nielsen
To begin with, a warning! Chloroform is dangerous – it can cause terminal diseases and also death if not administered under expert and medical supervision. Chloroform is a compound that needs to be handled with absolute knowledge, proper precautions and respect. Make sure you are aware of lab safety as well as chemical safety before working with this or any chemical compound. This article will cover how to make and safely handle this compound. Here’s how to make chloroform at home.
• Chloroform should always be handled by qualified persons or under qualified supervision.
• Children and pets should NEVER be allowed to come close to the chemical.
• Always wear protective gear and follow lab safety and chemical safety practices when handling chloroform.
• Chloroform reacts with oxygen to make phosgene, a chemical gas which, when consumed, causes irreparable damage to your body organs. Chloroform also turns into phosgene faster under direct sunlight (radiation).
Storing chloroform. If chloroform needs to be stored, the following precautions are necessary:
• Always store in an amber or brown glass bottle and NOT in plastic or metal containers
• To store, fill the bottle all the way up to the top
• Never store it for longer than a week as it will start decomposing.
• NEVER inhale chloroform made in the manner given below.
Making chloroform. To make chloroform, you will require the following laboratory chemicals and ingredients:
• Pure acetone, which is available at hardware stores
• Glassware, which will allow clear vision of the solution inside
• Separation funnel
Making the chloroform. Wear protective gear like goggles, gloves, and so on to ensure you are well protected.
• Start by filling up a glass container with half a liter of bleach
• Lower the temperature of the bleach solution by adding ice also into the container and allowing it to cool.
• Pour 10 ml of the acetone (to maintain a ratio of 1: 50, one part acetone to fifty parts of bleach) into the container.
• Add some more ice to keep the temperature low. Replacing the cubes that have already melted will ensure this. The bleach must be kept cool as otherwise it will emit fumes of bleach and chloroform.
• Keep aside for 20 minutes to ensure complete reaction. In a while clouding up can be seen with an increase in temperature.
• Allow time for the reaction to settle. This will take about half an hour, but if after this time also the solution does not appear to be settling, a stir will help.
• Once settled, you will see either be a white powder residue or a bubble at the bottom. This is chloroform.
• Pour the solution out with care, ensuring that no powder or bubble leaves the container.
• Now the pure chloroform, which remains in the glass container, can be extracted with a separation funnel.
Ideally, this article should be read for academic interest only. Avoid trying to make this chemical compound at home or anywhere else, unless you are authorized to do so and you follow established procedures and guidelines relating to the handling and usage of chemicals, laboratory safety, and the like.
Making chloroform in your home is strongly discouraged as the hazards of exposure to phosgene, used in chemical weapons, can be painfully fatal.