The Dumas Reaction
How to obtain methane gas from sodium acetate and sodium hydroxide
Chemistry gives people enormous capabilities and powers, but they must be used correctly and responsibly.
Reagents and equipment:
- sodium acetate;
- sodium hydroxide;
- ceramic cup;
- dry fuel tablet or spirit burner;
- matches or lighter.
When salts of carbonic acids are melted with alkalis (usually potassium or sodium hydroxide), alkane is released, which has a carbon bond that is one unit shorter than the carbonic acid salt. This reaction is called the “Dumas reaction” in honor of the French chemist Jean-Baptiste Andre Dumas, and is a decarboxylation reaction, i.e. carbon dioxide separates from the carbonic acid molecule.
In this experiment, when sodium acetate and sodium hydroxide are melted together, methane is released, and the released carbon dioxide interacts with sodium hydroxide, and forms sodium carbonate:
СН₃СООН + NaOH → СН₄↑ + Na₂CO₃
Wear protective gloves and glasses when conducting this experiment and observe safety regulations in working with flammable substances and fire.
Warning! Substances of this experiment are toxic and highly dangerous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only under professional supervision.