Quenching Lithium

Quenching Lithium

A three neck flask equipped with stirrer, reflux condenser, and nitrogen inlet is charged with the lithium and sufficient toluene (or xylene) to cover the metal. Approximately one liter is sufficient for 100 g of metal. The metal should be cut into small chunks to maximize reactivity. Lithium will float on the solvent so vigorous stirring is required. It is extremely important that a large opening be left for both the generated hydrogen and the flush nitrogen to escape. Isopropanol is added dropwise at a rate sufficient to cause gentle reflux. Approximately 15 mL of isopropanol will be needed for each gram of lithium. When vigorous reaction ceases the solution is heated to reflux overnight. The solution is then cooled and methanol added (5 mL per g) and the solution again heated to reflux. After cooling to room temperature a small quantity of water (1 mL per g) is then added to ensure complete destruction of the metal.