How to Dissolve Silica

Written by don kress
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How to Dissolve Silica
Using the wrong container to dissolve silica can be dangerous. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Silica, also known as silicon dioxide, is a chemical compound most often found in nature as sand or quartz. Known for its extreme hardness, silica is used in the production of glass, optical fibre cables and even Portland cement. Unfortunately, for the purposes of scientific experimentation, you cannot attempt to dissolve silica in sand form in a traditional glass container. Because glass is made primarily of silica, it would dissolve as well. Wear eye and respiratory protection whenever using hydrofluoric acid.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Plastic dish
  • Plastic eyedropper
  • Hydrofluoric acid neutraliser
  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pour a small amount of silica, such as silica sand, into the base of a plastic dish.

  2. 2

    Add to the dish an equal amount of hydrofluoric acid with a plastic eyedropper. Avoid letting the hydrofluoric acid splash, spill or otherwise come into contact with any other surfaces except the silica sand.

  3. 3

    Mix the ingredients together, using a gentle stirring motion, with the tip of the plastic eyedropper. This will cause the silica to dissolve. When the experiment is completed, apply an appropriate amount of hydrofluoric acid neutraliser before disposing of the chemicals in an appropriate manner.

Tips and warnings

  • Hydrofluoric acid is extremely dangerous and can cause skin burns, cardiac arrest and a host of other health problems. Use only small amounts of the acid at a time to reduce the danger of accidental injury.

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