6
$\begingroup$

I was watching Periodic Video's chlorine video, which discusses chlorine's ferocity in stripping electrons whenever possible, and the professors mentioned its consequent use in WWI as a chemical agent. This got me thinking, if I were in that situation (say Syria if they decided to go old-school or a chemical leak), what could I do to protect myself against gaseous chlorine using the chemistry of everyday materials around me?

I imagine a wet towel won't help much to prevent the chlorine from getting in my lungs. Are there any easily obtainable substances I could safely breath through that would neutralize the chlorine? Or are there any (realistic) MacGyver solutions to quickly building a semi-functional gas mask? Just kinda curious what could be done.

$\endgroup$
9
$\begingroup$

Interestingly, the British had such a solution in WWI: the Hypo Helmet. This was simply a bag soaked in sodium thiosulfate solution and worn over the head. Thiosulfate reduces chlorine (and halogens generally) to chloride (halide) ions:

$\ce{2 S2O3^{2−} + Cl2 → S4O6^{2−} + 2 Cl^{−}}$

As the article notes, this was not the best solution, but I think it fits your criteria for rough and ready protection.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting! Any ideas how to MacGyver some sodium thiosulfate from everyday chemicals? $\endgroup$ – 0x24a537r9 May 23 '14 at 20:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It might surprise you that hobbyists still develop black & white film. Hypo is used to "fix" the final print after developing. So it's easy to get. It's also sold to de-chlorinate water. It might not be everyday, but it's readily available. $\endgroup$ – user467 May 23 '14 at 21:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.