Strike is sure that an imaginative person can look around her everyday surroundings and think of something that can act as a replacement for some of those hard to get glassware items and other gizmos. As it so happens Strike has thought about this too. Here are some of the more likely ways that these things can be made.
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The best replacement for borosilicate glassware is stainless steel. Stainless steel takes the heat, won't break, and, most importantly, is about as resistant to chemical degradation as the chemist can hope to find. For those items that won't be subjected to direct heat there can be some steel/metal or steel/plastic hybrids. In figure 3 is shown how flasks of any size can be made with two stainless steel mixing bowls welded together. Also shown is the vacuum adaptor and condenser. For the condenser only the inner pipe need be steel. The outside pipe can be copper or something. As for the other components of a distillation set up, well, they are made just as they look.
In figure 4 is shown how a separatory funnel and a pressure equalized addition funnel are made. The funnel part is just a PP funnel from the grocery store and what it is attached to is a stainless steel ball valve. See how the addition funnel is made by using a rubber stopper and an extra extension of tubing to the top of the funnel? Well, that's how one can make a sealed addition funnel out of the ordinary glass separatory funnel that one gets with a distillation kit or from wherever.
All of the pieces pictured here are not going to fit perfectly into each other and that's going to cause all sorts of leaks. The answer is teflon tape. Strike loves teflon tape! This inexpensive product is found in the plumbing department of any hardware store and is the duct tape of the next century. Teflon tape is chemically and thermally indestructible. This stuff is wrapped around any piece of pipe or joint, said part then jammed into its appropriate receptacle and the tape will mold to form a perfect fit. Hell, it can mummify a whole joint complex to make it absolutely impregnable.
So what's the downside of using a stainless steel distillation kit? The chemist can't see shit! There is a definite advantage of being able to see a reaction as it takes place and to see when something starts to distill over. All Strike can say is that the chemist must rely much more heavily on the readings of her thermometer and have a greater faith in the chemistry she is doing. By this Strike means that since there is probably going to be no more than 2-3 different chemicals in the reaction flask, then all the chemist need be aware of is what thing comes over first , second and last. Strike knows. Strike knows. It's a little more complex than that. But if a chemist gets the hang of distillation it really can be as simple as that.
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