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Determine the best method that will create the cheapest, but largest quantity of Epsom salts in the quickest amount of time.

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AIM My group and I are members of a small chemical company that are going in to business to produce Epsom salts. (Information on Epsom salts can be found in 'background information). Our company name is 'The Epsom Company'. In order to be the best company we have to ensure the Epsom salts we produce are a good quality. But despite this we are also looking to make a profit and so cost must be as limited as possible. We will need to pay strict attention to the cost of apparatus and equipment and aim to use a minimum amount of chemicals to produce the maximum amount of Epsom salts. Time is also an issue and the least time spent means more Epsom salts and more money. In this experiment we will try to determine the best method that will create the cheapest, but largest quantity of Epsom salts in the quickest amount of time. BACKGROUND INFORMATION (obtained through research) Epsom salts is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and has several uses. The mineral product is used as a very effective foot soak, easing muscles, soothing the rough patches and absorbing odours. It can also be used as a bath enhancer in warm water for a soothing soak that can reduce stress. You can also massage Epsom salts over wet skin to cleanse, exfoliate and soften rough spots. It can also be used as a pain reliever to reduce the swelling from scrapes, take the sting out of insect bites or even remove splinters. It can also be used a face cleaner when mixed with cleaning cream, or even a homemade stain mask. Epsom salts can be used as a hair volumiser to condition the hair or can be used to make hairspray. It is also used a lot in gardening as it can be fed to plants, vegetables and lawn to make them larger and more healthy looking. ...read more.


HYPOTHESIS Based on the research I have obtained and through my own scientific knowledge, I have made predictions for the investigation I am about to carry out. Test 1 I think that magnesium will be better than magnesium carbonate because in magnesium carbonate CO2 gas is given off as a by-product as well as H2O. Because there is a lot of by-product the reaction will be very fast. So it will react violently as soon as there is contact with the sulphuric acid, which means in the time it is placed inside and the lid is placed on a lot of gas has escaped. Whereas, with Magnesium only H2 is given off as a by-product so it would be slower and results can be recorded more easily and accurately (because we do not have to record the results very quickly). Test 2 After determining that we are using magnesium, in this test we are trying to determine in which form we should use it. The two forms of magnesium we can use are either ribbons or turnings. I predict that we will find that the best form to use is the turnings because it has less surface area than the ribbons. This is because the rate of reaction is higher when there is more surface area or is a smaller particle size. The reason for this is because it increases collisions. If it was a solid like a ribbon there would be less area available for the acid to react with, so there will be less useful collisions. Whereas if it is broken up into smaller pieces like turnings, the surface area has increased and there is more area available for the acid to react with and there is going to be more useful collisions. Test 3 I predict in this test I will find the higher the concentration the faster the rate of reaction. ...read more.


doors and air vents must be covered I did not ensure this was done and while we were doing the tests for the 0.25 molar concentration a draught could have got into the room, decreasing the temperature and slowing down the reaction and therefore less hydrogen gas could have been produced. Turnings- the turnings are quite small so by accident we may not have emptied the whole 0.1g into the sulphuric acid and left some behind. This could have affected the results because it would lower the volume of hydrogen gas been produced, as there would have been less magnesium for the acid to react with. Concentration- the concentration may not have been exact to the point of being a molar quantity. Slight mistakes in measurement could have been made during the 0.25 molar concentration test, which explains the slightly anomalous results. This could have been slightly more water being added when diluting the 1M concentration to 0.25 M which meant we had effectively used a concentration lower than 0.25M. After considering all this, if I were to do the experiment again I would definitely do it more carefully and carry out measurements to a higher degree of accuracy. This would involve using more accurate measuring devices. I realise this may cost more money and could even go over the budget, but I think if it helps to produce more Epsom salts than it is worth it as we can effectively earn more money from it. As I mentioned before, I believe the use of a gas syringe could be helpful in being more accurate. I also believe the use of a more scientific and precise weighing scale that measures down to milligrams would greatly help us. Also I believe the use of a more naturally flexible delivery tube could help a lot because the one we used in the experiment didn't bend very well and could have prevented the hydrogen gas from flowing through it freely, which could have caused a slower reaction. ...read more.

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