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2007/12/22

Addiction - making and drinking a laboratory solvent

My friends - so I reckoned - would never have believed that I'd do it, so I didn't tell them beforehand, fearful that they might try to stop me. Friends mean well, but I didn't want to hear the old, "You're crazy to do that, man!", or receive all the emotional pressure that people put on you when they want to make you do what they want. (You probably know what that feels like.) Just because it's potentially the most addictive substance on the planet is what puts the wind up some people.

Anyway, I have a pretty good background in chemistry and I figured that I could do it OK - and legally too. So I did it, and I lived to tell the tale. I shall tell it to you now.

The thing is - and what I should warn you about first off - is this: I know that I shall - that I shall have to - do it again, and soon. You can't beat this stuff, and - I kid you not - you begin to realise that you really can't do without it. Right now I can give you a hundred and more good reasons for why it'll be good for me - why I need it. I hate to hear myself say that. Anyone who has had an alcoholic in the family has a good idea what addicts can go through and how they are able to rationalise what it is they do - to deceive themselves and their relatives.

To cut a long story short: It all started after I had read that first time about how it was "the ultimate Geek drink". That whetted my appetite. I wanted to know more, and I thought to myself, "Well, if they can do it, then so can I." It was almost like somebody had dared me to do it - and my ego wasn't going to let me back down from the challenge. So, without realising that I had already subconciously accepted the challenge, I read more widely, wanting to make sure that I fully understood what I might be getting myself into - after all, if you are planning on pouring a powerful lab solvent down your throat just once - never mind potentially that you might feel compelled to do it on a regular basis - you'd need to have rocks in your head if you didn't check out what sort of risks you could be exposing yourself to. I never like to go into anything blind. It would be all your own fault if you ended up in hospital, or worse, dead - and I certainly didn't plan on dying by my own hand or any other way, anytime soon, that's for sure.

Well, to be honest, there were some risks:
  • In moderate quantities, it was reputedly safe, but, depending on the quantity you were ingesting - or handling - it could be poisonous, if not fatal. Inhaling a large quantity was usually fatal. So you could need special protective gear (I only intended to make small quantities), and if you have certain chemicals near it (I checked and I didn't have any of those specified), then you'd be well advised to wear fire-retardant clothing and protective eye-wear.

  • Spilling the stuff accidentally was a no-no, as it has a relatively low surface tension and tends to run everywhere and contaminate anything that will absorb it - and a lot of things would want to absorb it. Heck, if stuff is not absorbing it, then it's usually busy dissolving them - all kinds of stuff - and when it's not dissolving stuff it's probably reacting with it because it has strong hydrogen bonds at the molecular level. Some of the stuff it reacts with goes "KABOOM!". It's one heck of a powerful solvent.
I had decided to make it myself because, though I found various sources where you could apparently legally obtain/buy the stuff, I quickly realised that what these people were selling wasn't 100% pure - they always adulterated it with other substances and chemicals. It was bad enough knowing that you were going to be drinking a powerful solvent, without knowing what the heck else chemicals or poisons some idiot had added to it for whatever reason.

It took me most of the morning to set up the necessary lab equipment in my apartment kitchen area. I was about to make 100% pure dihydrogen monoxide solvent, and so I was fiddling with this and that, to make sure that I had got everything just so. I figured that I didn't want any foul-ups or nasty accidents, and I had the time to be careful. From a local source I obtained about a quarter-litre of the raw base material. I was after the distillate, so whatever it had been adulterated with - i.e., if it contained any "fillers", contaminants, or poisons - then they would probably be left behind in the boiling retort, or would pass harmlessly through the condenser without condensing. I had rigged up the boiling retort on one of the cooking rings on the cooktop in my apartment. This stuff has the second highest specific heat known to man, so it took a lot of heat before it started simmering, and some more before it would boil. When it started boiling at exactly 100 degrees C, I moved the input end of the distillation coil over the mouth of the retort, so that it boiled into the distillation coil. This was the first time I had used the equipment, and I was understandably a bit nervous. I watched the distillate as it dripped into the empty receiving container - I used an ordinary glass (a large one). So far so good, and the process was going according to what all the literature said would happen.

As the container started to fill, I waited, and then I turned the heat off when the container had about one cupful of the stuff - I was mindful about the potential risks of handling larger quantities, and anyway all I needed for this first time was a small amount of the solvent to try.

When the distillation coil had stopped dripping, I picked up the glass and held it to the light. The contents were quite clear and colourless - as the literature had said they would be. Even though the literature had said it was odourless, I sniffed it gingerly to check. It had absolutely no smell that I could detect.

By this stage I had run out of things to do to procrastinte from experiencing the moment of truth. I brought the glass to my lips and then paused momentarily as I thought about holding my nose - but the literature had said it was tasteless too - and then I took a sip, and another, until the glass was empty. Immediately, I started to feel better for it - or was it my imagination?

This stuff is amazing. I need this stuff!

That's why I said "I know that I shall - that I shall have to - do it again, and soon."

If you want to learn how to distill 100% pure dihydrogen monoxide solvent, leave me a post and I shall pass on the necessary info. Distillation may be illegal in some countries.
One source to purchase it from on the net is here, but some international customs authorities may prohibit importation. There are other web-ordering sources. There are informative and relevant Wikipedia articles here and here. Good luck! Let me know how you get on - if you survive the experience!
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