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Author Topic: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?  (Read 19573 times)

Offline AllenG

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How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« on: 23/06/2012 21:23:50 »
I'm an alternative process photographer.  Meaning I print my photographs with 19th century formulas.
I get great satisfaction from mixing my own forumlas.  I also like to tie my images directly to where they were originally captured.  For instance, the image below was shot on the bank of the Arno river. After I captured the image I went went down to the Arno and collected a gallon of water which I then filtered and used in the development process. I want to take this a step further.   I live on the coast of Georgia (state not country) and there is a goodly amount of iron in the sand.  I can collect it with a strong magnet. 

Can one make ferric ammonium citrate in a home lab?  And if so how would I go about accomplishing it?


This is a VanDyke print.  The formula I used was a 9% solution of ferric ammonium citrate, 1.5% tartaric acid, and 4% silver nitrate.  The water was distilled from the Arno, and then the print was developed in filtered Arno water. 

The above is really simple to do.  Dissolve the required chemicals (which can be purchased from many photography supply houses) to the desired solutions in distilled water, and then mix the three solutions together and one has VanDyke sensitizer.

If I can make my own F.A.C. one of the things I plan on doing is collecting micrometeorites and creating an image that is at least in part made of extraterrestrial iron.  My house has a few rain barrels and they always have a bit of sediment collected in the bottom, mostly bits of leaf and bird dirt, but if one runs a rare earth magnet through it, it always comes up with some ferric material.  Part of that material has to be micrometeorites.

Thank you for reading through my hair brained idea,

--Allen
« Last Edit: 24/06/2012 01:44:19 by AllenG »


 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #1 on: 23/06/2012 21:53:50 »
I think I have a recipe somewhere. I will try to remember where and dig it out for you.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #2 on: 24/06/2012 01:06:36 »
I couldn't thank you more.
 

Offline distimpson

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #3 on: 24/06/2012 02:40:31 »
Hi Allen, really like your idea of using meteorite iron in the photographic process. I've got meteorite saw dust from cutting brenham pallasites, it is roughly a 50:50 mix of the metal (~90% iron and 10% nickel) and the magnesium/iron/nickel silicates. The saw dust is in mineral oil. I do not know how to convert the metal to the ammonium citrate. But if you can use some of this material i'd be happy to supply it for your project. don
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #4 on: 24/06/2012 05:42:40 »
Hi Allen, really like your idea of using meteorite iron in the photographic process. I've got meteorite saw dust from cutting brenham pallasites, it is roughly a 50:50 mix of the metal (~90% iron and 10% nickel) and the magnesium/iron/nickel silicates. The saw dust is in mineral oil. I do not know how to convert the metal to the ammonium citrate. But if you can use some of this material i'd be happy to supply it for your project. don
Don,
That is astoundingly generous. PM me your contact info and I'll PayPal you the funds for its cost and shipping.
If I can get a working sensitizer I'm going to contact NASA and get my press pass reinstated.  I'll send you and Bored Chemist meteorite prints of the last rocket to ever be launched from the Cape.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #5 on: 24/06/2012 12:31:57 »
Well, I have tracked down my copy of Bentley and Driver's text book of Pharmaceutical Chemistry (1951).
Now all I have to do is remember how to upload an image. (and see if I can resize it to fit)
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #6 on: 24/06/2012 12:32:44 »
And part II


 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #7 on: 24/06/2012 12:33:47 »
Let me know if that makes any sense.
I realise that it's not the most accessible language.

According to this
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=%22solution%20of%20ferric%20sulphate%22&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CFEQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2F
www.sciencemadness.org%2Ftalk%2Ffiles.php%3Fpid%3D140008%26aid
%3D6594&ei=Wi3nT4zKN4KLhQfqyanNCQ&usg=AFQjCNGrWhAaNUeSJ_yXH34E0iJr4LAt0g
the ferric sulphate solution contains 10% iron by weight so the 40 ml of it that the recipe calls for would need about 4 grams of iron. That's a lot of meteor dust.
Is this project still plausible if we use ordinary iron for most of it, and just a bit of stardust?
That 4 grams of iron would produce about 20g of ferric ammonium citrate. How much does the photography need?




I have edited the address above so (hopefully) it doesn't mess up the formatting of the thread any more. You will need to patch it together if you want to follow it.
« Last Edit: 24/06/2012 21:23:07 by Bored chemist »
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #8 on: 24/06/2012 17:05:19 »
The recipe I use calls for 9 grams of ferric sulphate. 
For each print 8x10 I use about 4ml of sensitizer.

 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #9 on: 24/06/2012 18:05:44 »
ferric sulphate.  ?
Ferric Sulphate or ferric ammonium citrate?
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #10 on: 24/06/2012 19:05:10 »
Ferric ammonium citrate.  Sorry. I was still in need of my morning caffeine when I wrote that.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #11 on: 24/06/2012 19:18:42 »
9 grams of ferric ammonium citrate would imply about 1.9 g of iron. That's still rather a lot of meteorite.
(and I apologise for messing up the thread formatting with that long link.)
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #12 on: 24/06/2012 19:46:42 »
Meteorites are cheeper than I would have thought.


This sample of Sikhote-Alin Iron Meteorite is 19 grams and is up for sale for ~30.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #13 on: 24/06/2012 20:56:01 »

Just bought this meteorite for the project. It weighs in at 22.5 grams.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #14 on: 24/06/2012 21:09:28 »
Cool!
I guess that, since you make your own photographic chemicals that you have some sort of access to chemicals and equipment
 (or that, at least, you are not too frightened of them).


Incidentally, do you ever do "blue print" pictures? In that case the pigment that makes the image contains iron which could be derived from a meteorite too.
« Last Edit: 24/06/2012 21:21:30 by Bored chemist »
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #15 on: 24/06/2012 21:23:53 »
Cool!
I guess that, since you make your own photographic chemicals that you have some sort of access to chemicals and equipment
 (or that, at least, you are not too frightened of them).
No real fear.  I'm going to proceed slowly, carefully, and as well informed as I can be and hope for the best.
My darkroom is pretty well equipped. Up until now I've been mostly dissolving chemicals in water and then mixing the
solutions to create my needed formulas. 
This will be my first try at more advanced chemistry since I was in school (I think one of the Henrys was king at the time).
 I may end up going to one of the local universities' chemistry departments and see if I can get a professor to help walk me
through the creation of the first batch.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #16 on: 24/06/2012 22:28:38 »
I think the slow bit is going to be dissolving the metal in the first place.
You might want someone with a fume cupboard to help there, unless you are prepared for a long wait.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #17 on: 25/06/2012 01:59:16 »
Right.  Good point. 
I think finding the meteorite was the easiest part of this project. Now the hard part starts.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #18 on: 25/06/2012 02:07:07 »
Incidentally, do you ever do "blue print" pictures? In that case the pigment that makes the image contains iron which could be derived from a meteorite too.
I do make cyanotypes. I haven't in a while and I don't really know why. 
A blue picture from space.  I should make a portrait of the Tardis or Matt Smith for that.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #19 on: 25/06/2012 16:44:47 »
Once my meteorite arrives how does one go about determining its oxidation state?
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #20 on: 25/06/2012 19:23:24 »
It's current oxidation state will be practically zero. It's a lump of metal.
I'm currently running an experiment to see how quickly a lump of steel weighing about 20g takes to dissolve in dilute sulphuric acid. (50 ml H2SO4 + 200 ml H2O) It's disappointingly slow at the moment, but I'm thinking about that one.
How does this idea of heating the meteorite to red hot and pounding it flat with a hammer grab you?
With cyanotypes you could certainly use meteorite iron for half the iron in the blue pigment, and for all of it if you don't mind using cyanides.
(Can we take the safety warnings as read here please. I'm a real live, trained, experienced chemist and I would probably shy away from using cyanides, especially at home)
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #21 on: 25/06/2012 19:40:14 »
I have no problem at all grinding, heating, or doing whatever needs to be done with the meteorite. 
I don't mind using cyanides.  There are a goodly amount of chemicals that I use that need to be treated with respect. 

Again, thank you  so very much for your help.  It's been invaluable to me.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #22 on: 25/06/2012 21:28:45 »
The iron is dissolving: slowly. It's generating something like 1 ml of hydrogen every 10 seconds. (To the nearest order of magnitude. It's hard to measure exactly.)
With 20 g of iron I will get something like 10 litres of gas in total. About a day to react (or maybe a week  with the poor accuracy of measurement).
And I suspect it's getting slower.
I'm putting it on something warm like a plant propagator.


And I'm happy to help by the way. This is a fascinating project.

Remaining mass 21.2g at 21:45
« Last Edit: 25/06/2012 21:43:38 by Bored chemist »
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #23 on: 26/06/2012 00:05:30 »
I contacted NASA today and went through the motions to get my press pass reactivated. 
The last launch at the Cape is coming up at the end of the summer.  I think a series of the last Atlas rocket printed in meteorite will be a worthy subject for this project.
 

Offline AllenG

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #24 on: 26/06/2012 00:54:35 »
BC, there is a man in Michigan who makes meteorite Damascus steel straight razors (they are stunning by the way).  He hand forges and hammers them.  Would the scale produced in that blacksmithing process be Iron(II)? 

If so, my first step may be to trade him my meteorite sample for some of his floor sweepings.
 

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Re: How to make Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
« Reply #24 on: 26/06/2012 00:54:35 »

 

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