Laboratory‎ > ‎ Recrystallization


The most common method of purifying solid organic compounds is by recrystallization.In this experiment an impure solid compound will be dissolved in a solvent and then allowed to slowly crystallize out as the solutions cools.


First 50-100 ml of deionized water will be heated to boiling on a hot plate at Bunsen burner.While waiting for the water to boil,the impure compound will be weighed and transferred to a clean 125 ml Erlenmeyer flask.The mixture will be swirled and then placed on the hot plate to heat the solution to boiling.If all the solid material will dissolved into solution,it will be  removed the Erlenmeyer flask from the heat and let the solution cool down to temperature to effect crystallization.Once the glassware is cool enough to handle,the solution will be placed in an ice bath for about 5 minutes.It will be mixtured then the recrystallized product will be collected by vacuum filtration.And then the residue will be washed and the solid material will be allowed to remain in the filter with the aspirator puling air over the crystals for 10-15 minutes to dry them.


1-There are four properties.The compound should be very soluble at the boiling point of the solvent and only sparingly soluble in the solvent at room temperature.The unwanted impurities should be either very soluble in the solvent at room temperature or insoluble in the hot solvent.The solvent should not react with the compound being purified.The solvent should be volatile enough to be easily removed from the solvent after the compound has crystallized.

2- Sugar dissolves in water because energy is given off when the slightly polar sucrose molecules form intermolecular bonds with the polar water molecules. The weak bonds that form between the solute and the solvent compensate for the energy needed to disrupt the structure of both the pure solute and the solvent

3-Mother liquor is the portion of a solution remainig after crystallization  of its important component. Supernatant is the soluble liquid reaction of a sample after centrifugation or precipitation of insoluble solids. Buchner Funnel is usually used in organic chemistry labs to assist in purifying recrystallized compounds.The suction allows wet recrystallized compound to dry out such that the pure dried crystal compound is left remaining. Vacuum filtration is used primarily to collect a desired solid,for instance,the collection of crystals in a recrystallization procedure.



Solid products of organic compounds are usually contaminated with other solid compounds or tar that affects both the melting point and the color of the compound that is prepared.  The most practical and quickest method for purifying a solid organic compound is to recrystallize the compound. This means that the impure compound is dissolved in a desirable solvent and then allowed to precipitate from the solution in crystals that are very pure.

The process is widely used in organic chemistry to purify solid compounds.  one of the most frequently observed recrystallizations around the home is the formation of sucrose crystals in syrups which are just concentrated solutions of sucrose.  Sucrose is very soluble in hot water but less soluble in cold water.  When syrup is cooled, crystals tend to form.  In fact, this phenomenon is the basis for the refined sugar industry.  Granular table sugar, sucrose, is precipitated from concentrated solutions.

In the laboratory, most compounds are not soluble in water.  This means that a solvent has to be found in which the compound or the impurity is soluble under either hot or cold conditions.

In other words, if compound A is contaminated with an impurity, the solvent must be one in which the impurity is either completely insoluble or more freely soluble than compound A.  In either case, a saturated solution of compound A is prepared.  Compound A then will recrystallize (or precipitate) from the solution.  The impurity will stay in solution when the impurity is more soluble than compound A or will not dissolve when less soluble than A.

The best solvents for recrystallization are those in which compound A is poorly soluble at room temperature but soluble at higher temperatures.  In this case, the solid to be purified is placed in the solvent, the solvent is heated, and the compound will dissolve.  If necessary, the solution can be filtered while hot to remove an insoluble impurity.  Then the solution is cooled.  The compound will form crystals and precipitate from the solution if a saturated solution has been prepared.  The crystals will be rather pure.  It is essential that the solvent and the compound do not react with each other.  Frequently, a compound has to be purified and a solvent has to be chosen for the recrystallization for purification).

The rule of thumb for choosing a solvent is like dissolves like.  This means that compounds with similar functional groups are usually mutually soluble in each other.  Sucrose that is a polyhydroxy compound is soluble in water.  Alcohols and carboxylic acids, which also contain the -OH group, are soluble in water, which contains the -OH group.  Benzene is not water-soluble but will dissolve in other hydrocarbons like hexane.  Grease is soluble in gasoline because both are hydrocarbons.  It is desirable to have a compound dissolve upon heating and then precipitate when cool.  If precipitation does not occur after a compound has been dissolved there are two techniques that may be used to attempt precipitation:

  • Cool the solution in an ice bath and scratch the inside of the container with a stirring rod.

  • Cool the solution in an ice bath and add a small crystal of the same compound dissolved in the solution.  This method is called “seeding”.

Some common recrystallization solvents are water, ethyl alcohol, benzene, acetone, acetic acid, chloroform, carbon disulfide, and ethyl acetate.

In the case in which the impure compound is soluble in the recrystallization solvent, but the impurities are not, the hot solution must be filtered.  The filtration has to be done with the hot solution and has to be rapid.  If the hot solution filters too slowly, precipitation will occur in the stem of the funnel and plug it so badly that the solution will not flow from the funnel.  This type of precipitation can be avoided by heating the funnel on a hot plate or in an oven until just before its use.  The inconvenience of this method is the use of another piece of hot equipment.  A short-stemmed funnel is definitely better than a long-stemmed one for filtration. When a recrystallization has been completed, the crystals are collected on a Buchner (or Hurch) funnel.

Safety Precautions

  • Safety glasses are required.

  • Hot liquids will have to be poured during this lab.

  • Any spills will have to be cleaned up immediately.

  • Wash any spills from the skin immediately.


Two recrystallizations are to be carried out: (1) a compound selected by the lab instructor;  (2) acetylsalicylic acid.  No boiling stones will be used.

Part 1:  The compound that will be recrystallized is freely soluble in hot water while almost insoluble in cold water.  Three grams of this material, contaminated with a water- insoluble impurity, will be used.  Weigh the mixture.  In a 250 mL beaker, 75 mL of distilled water is heated on a hot plate.  While the water is heating, add the impure compound to the beaker and water.

Stir the mixture with a stirring rod.  After the compound has cooled to room temperature, use a small Buchner funnel to collect the crystals.  Use the mother liquor (the filtrate) to wash additional crystals fromthe recrystallization beaker.  The mother liquor will be saturated with the pure compound and will not dissolve any additional purified compound.

To wash the precipitate, the vacuum is released from the filtering flask and the precipitate on the Buchner funnel is barely covered with a portion of cold solvent.  The two are allowed to remain in contact for at least a minute.  Then the vacuum is turned on and the liquid pulled from the precipitate.

Always turn on the vacuum before pouring a mixture onto a Buchner funnel.  Turn off the vacuum when pouring a wash solvent onto crystals on a Buchner funnel.

The crystals are removed from the Buchner funnel into a 30 ml beaker and placed in a dessicator until the next lab period.

PERCENT RECOVERY = (amount recovered/initial amount) x 100%

Part 2:  Weigh the crude aspirin then recrystallize the it from an ethyl alcohol and water mixture as follows:  Dissolve the aspirin in 10 ml of ethyl alcohol.  Warm gently on the hot plate (set on low).  When the aspirin has dissolved, add 20 ml of water.  If any precipitate forms, warm the mixture until it redissolves.  Cool the mixture in an ice bath until no additional crystals form.  Collect the crystals on a small Buchner funnel or Hirsch funnel and wash with 5 ml of cold water.  Dry in the dessicator until the next lab period.

Next Lab Period:  Determine the yield and the melting point of your compound and the pure aspirin.  Turn in the product and the pure aspirin for grading.


  1. What is recrystallization?  Precipitation?

  2. What properties does a good recrystallization solvent have?

  3. Why is a solution cooled to effect recrystallization?

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