How to Make Graphite From Charcoal
Graphite is one of the most common industrial minerals. It’s also one of the softest, meaning it can be easily cut or scratched with a knife. In addition, graphite has many uses in manufacturing because it doesn’t corrode, and its electrical resistance is very high. In short, graphite has lots of different properties that make it useful in the industry. In this article, I will discuss how to make graphite from charcoal.
Uses of Graphite:
Graphite is used in many industrial processes as a lubricant to reduce friction and wear on moving parts. Artificial graphite is also used to make electrodes for dry cell batteries. Graphite mixed with clay can be made into the refractory bricks used inside kilns, furnaces, and fireboxes to withstand extremely high temperatures.
The heat-absorbing properties of graphite make it useful in nuclear reactors, space vehicles, and the space program generally, where it serves as a shield against heat radiation. Graphite is also used as a moderator to slow down neutrons in nuclear reactors.
It has been proposed for use in thermonuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles, though not yet employed. It was also the material used for the heat shields on the Apollo Program’s lunar modules.
Step-wise Guide on How to Make Graphite From Charcoal:
Step 1 :
First, you need to make good charcoal. The crystals made from wood with resin in them can provide the best graphite, so try to stick with wood that has pine or fir in it if you want to maximize your chances of getting graphite.
You can find out which types of wood contain resins by trying the following procedure, one piece at a time: take a board (of any kind) and make sure it is clean on both sides. Next, take some sandpaper and polish about 1/2 inch off one end of the board, creating a very shiny portion.
If the tip goes black when you rub it with a single finger, then there’s resin in the wood. However, be careful because not all woods contain resin, and so when you try this with a pine or fir, it will turn black while most hardwoods, as well as softwoods like poplar, will not.
Step 2 :
The next step is to grind the charcoal into a powdery substance.
This is where any grinder can be used because it doesn’t require anything special. Grind up several pieces at once until you have enough for several tries, taking care not to breathe in the smoke from grinding up the charcoals.
You want to use excess charred wood scraps rather than starting with too many small pieces because they burn faster and are more difficult to work with. It’s much easier on your fingers if you lightly sand them with sandpaper before lighting so the charcoal won’t stick to your skin.
Once you’ve ground up the charcoals, put them in a tin can and mix them with additions of magnesium powder if you want to improve the purity of the sample. This is optional, but it helps because magnesium will help free out other elements that might be mixed into your charcoals so that they don’t affect your final results.
For example, some metals like iron, nickel, etc. turn black when heated by fire for any length of time, which can poison the resulting graphite sample; If you’re familiar with alchemy, then you’ll know what I’m talking about, but if not, then just make a point of adding in some magnesium powder every time you try this procedure, and it will help.
Step 3 :
The next step is to burn the charcoals by placing them inside a metal tin can and holding the lid down for several minutes (try 20 minutes) until it gets hot enough to melt most of the charcoal into ash. Although the tin will probably be warped at this point,
that’s okay because you don’t need it anymore as long as you keep track of where it was bent when it cooled off so that you know how to place your sample after heating. When hot, move on to the next step by pulling off all remaining ashes from the can and picking out any glowing coals or embers before mixing the ashes with a spoon and then carefully add them to a beaker or another glass container.
The ashes will slowly mix with the air in the beaker/container and begin to fume, so you need to work quickly before they mix too much with each other. If it’s hard for you to tell where your sample is located inside the beaker/container, then try adding a drop of water into the hot ashes while stirring – this will cause most of the ash particles to stick together through surface tension, allowing you to see how far down they extend inside the beaker against the sides (if any).
Step 4 :
Once all that residue has settled down again, place some sandpaper on an aluminum pie plate. Then use your fingers to grind your sample into a thin powder – the thinner, the better (but not too thin, or it will fall through the sandpaper).
After some stirring between rubbing and blowing on the ashes, you should be able to collect enough graphite powder for analysis. The key aspect of this procedure is timing because if you wait too long after grinding up your charcoals, then most of them will turn into graphite, but that would give you misleading results since this method yields very little graphite.
I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to make graphite from charcoal. Thank you and have a nice day!