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Organic Chemistry: Why do we swirl separatory funnel GENTLY?

I was doing a lab at school and was working with "Preparation of 2-chloro-2-methylbutane" and was wondering why when having the organic layer inside the funnel and adding water, why do we first swirl it gently? This is a hard question but I am curious. Thanks

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  • 9 years ago
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    Generally, separatory funnels are shaken (vigorously) to ensure complete mixture and extraction. However, if the directions call for swirling, that means complete mixing is not being requested. An example when one might do this is if a gas may be given off as a result of the mixing. A common instance is if one is neutralizing some acid or making a layer basic with sodium bicarbonate. The products of acid plus bicarbonate are carbon dioxide and water. If shaken, all of the carbon dioxide can come out at once and spray out of the sep funnel. In that case, swirl the funnel, release the carbon dioxide, repeat until gas no longer evolving, then shake to ensure extraction.

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