Manufacturing of Basic Chemicals for the Survivalist

Manufacturing of Basic Chemicals for the Survivalist

by Robert D. Spencer

Family of Sodium Chloride (NaCl, salt)

Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) – Result of electrolysis of salt water. Electrolysis is performed by connecting a battery or DC generator (e.g. battery charger or welding generator) to electrodes, which are placed into the substance being electrolyzed. NaOH is generated and NaCl diminishes in the solution as Hydrogen gas (H2) is produced at the positive terminal and Chlorine gas (Cl2) is produced at the negative terminal.

Sodium hypochlorite – Bleach. The result of dissolving chlorine in sodium hydroxide.

Family of Sodium Carbonate (NaCO3, washing soda)

Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3) – Present in alkaline deposits or in wood ash (a mixture of potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium carbonates.). Produced commercially by heating sodium bicarbonate at 250°C.

Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda, NaHCO3) – Produced by reacting ammonium carbonate (ammonia water and carbon dioxide) with sodium chloride (salt, NaCl).

Family of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3, limestone, chalk)

Calcium Oxide (CaO, "lime”) – Produced by roasting calcium carbonate at 2000°F.

Calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2, "slaked lime”) – produced by dissolving CaO in water. Used for making cement, glass, steel, tanning leather, and many other purposes.

Calcium carbide (CaC2) – Produced by roasting CaO mixed with carbon in a muffled container at 2000°F.

Acetylene (C2H2) – Produced by reacting calcium carbide with water.

Family of Nitrogen (N2)

Ammonia (NH3) – Produced by reacting hair with an alkali like CaO or NaOH in water. Commercially produced by reacting nitrogen with methane.

Nitric Acid (HNO3) – Produced by reacting ammonia with oxygen over a platinum catalyst (as found in a car’s catalytic converter) to form nitrogen monoxide (NO). Nitrogen monoxide then reacts with oxygen to form dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4). Finally, the nitrogen tetroxide is dissolved in water and forms nitric acid.


4NH3 + 5O2 → 4NO + H2O

2NO + O2 → 2N2O2

3N2O2 + 2H2O → 4 HNO3

Family of Sulfur (S)

Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4) – Produced by burning sulfur (S8) with oxygen (O2) to produce sulfur dioxide (SO2); then, burning SO2 with O2 as they pass through a platinum (Pt) catalyst [e.g. a catalytic converter from an automobile] to form sulfur trioxide (SO3). The SO3 is then dissolved in water to form sulfuric acid (H2SO4). A more effective method is to dissolve the SO3 in sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to form persulfuric acid (H2S2O7). The persulfuric acid is then diluted with a stochiometically equal amount of water to form two parts sulfuric acid.

S8 + 8O2 → 8SO2

2SO2 + O2 (+ Pt) → 2SO3 (+ Pt)

SO3 + H2O → H2SO4


SO3 + H2SO4 → H2S2O7

H2S2O7 + H2O → 2H2SO4

Uses: Sulfuric acid is the most abundantly used chemical in the world. It is used for catalyzing reactions, for acidifying, for dehydration reactions (where water is a byproduct of the reaction), for metal surface preparations, etc.

Family of Peroxides

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) – Produced by oxidation of either a 2-alkyl anthrahydroquinone (or 2-alkyl-9,10-dihydroxyanthracene) to the corresponding 2-alkyl anthraquinone. Major producers commonly use either the 2-ethyl or the 2-amyl derivative. The cyclic reaction depicted below shows the 2-ethyl derivative, where 2-ethyl-9,10-dihydroxyanthracene (C16H14O2) is oxidized to the corresponding 2-ethylanthraquinone (C16H12O2) and hydrogen peroxide. Most commercial processes achieve this by bubbling compressed air through a solution of the anthracene, whereby the oxygen present in the air reacts with the labile hydrogen atoms (of the hydroxy group), giving hydrogen peroxide and regenerating the anthraquinone. Hydrogen peroxide is then extracted and the anthraquinone derivative is reduced back to the dihydroxy (anthracene) compound using hydrogen gas in the presence of a metal catalyst. The cycle then repeats itself.


Family of Potassium (K)

Potassium Hydroxide – Produced by electrolysis of potassium chloride, in the same manner as NaOH is produced from NaCl. (See above.)

Family of Phosphorous (P)

Calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) is the substance, of which your teeth and bones are composed. Consequently, if one wants to make calcium phosphate in a survival situation; one only needs to burn bones to ash and then grind it to a fine powder.

Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4) – Produced by reacting phosphate rock (Ca3(PO4)2) with sulfuric acid (H2SO4).

Sodium Phosphates – Produced by reacting Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4) with one, two, or three stochiometric amounts of sodium hydroxide to form the monobasic, dibasic or tribasic phosphate product.

Potassium Phosphates – Produced by reacting Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4) with one, two, or three stochiometric amounts of sodium hydroxide to form the monobasic, dibasic or tribasic phosphate product.

Family of Chromium (Cr)

Potassium chromate (KCrO4) – Produced by fusing potassium hydroxide with chromium dioxide (chromite ore).

Potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7) –

Family of Manganese (Mn)

Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4) – Produced by fusion of pyrolucite ore (MnO2) with potassium hydroxide (KOH). This is a strong oxidizer widely used in the chemical industry.

Family of Carbon (C)

Carbon (C, charcoal) – Produced by destructive distillation of wood. The wood is selected by either availability or by pore size. The selected wood is then placed into a enclosure, which has a vent hole for the escape of steam and destructive distillation products (e.g. methanol, acetic acid, turpenes, rosins, resins, tars, etc.). The container is heated until distillates cease to be emitted from the container. The charcoal is left behind within the container.


Glycerine is a byproduct of making soap. Inasmuch as the manufacture of soap is the first step (an intermediate step) in the manufacture of biodiesel fuel, a lot of glycerine is produced as a byproduct of manufacturing biodiesel fuel. It is in the water soluble portion, which is separated from the fat, grease or vegetable oil.


Soaps are made from reacting vegetable oils or animal fats with a strongly alkaline substance such as ammonia, NaOH, KOH, etc. The resulting product’s properties will depend upon the alkaline substance chosen. Most soaps are sodium salts. The proper stochiometric amount of oil to alkali depends upon the type of oil and alkali involved in the reaction. There are three fatty-acids to each triglyceride (oil) molecule, but the weight of the molecule varies from one oil type to another. Therefore, three moles of alkali is required per mole of fat. Beef tallow is a group of triglycerides with various individual molecular structures, which have an average molecular weight of 272. So, if making beef tallow soap (sodium tallowate) 272 grams of beef tallow is reacted with (3x40 =) 120 grams of NaOH.