Date: Around 1999
where, exactly, can one buy petroleum ether...what is the
price range per, sat, 500 mls. Can it be made easily at
home...distilling gasoline, or is that too big a risk?
DO NOT distill gasoline at home! Petroleum ether is a very volatile, very
dagerous substance - much more flammable than gasoline. Simply having it
in your home is a risk, as most people (and I assume you) do not own a
proper, ventilated safety cabinet.
You might be able to get a little petroleum ether from gasoline, but
gasoline is the petroleum fraction AFTER petroleum ether - that is,
petroleum ether is the fraction that is more volatile than gasoline. (In
addition, commercial gasoline has a lot of other stuff added to it to make
it a good automotive fuel, further reducing the already small proportion
that would be pet ether.)
Generally, home laboratories are not safe for working with highly flammable
materials such as gasoline or pet ether. The ventilation and fire
suppression systems just aren't good enough.
Just about any chemical supplier (Aldrich, Fisher, VWR, etc.) will sell pet
ether. The chemical grade stuff is fairly cheap as solvents go, but rather
expensive for a home budget - about $20 for 500 mL. I doubt, however, that
any of these supliers will sell to a private individual.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph. D.
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012