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I was thinking about crystals of organic compounds recently after I had to clean beeswax off a pot. it's an extremely tedious process to remove. you have to boil water in the pot and then continually remove the liquid wax while hoping it doesn't adhere to the side. so I looked up what beeswax is soluble in, it's soluble in most notably acetone. I grow crystals just for fun mostly because they look cool. anyway, beeswax is composed of multiple organic compounds and im wondering if anybody has tried to grow crystals of beeswax or similar organic compounds. lastly is it even possible to make a crystal with multiple primary constituents? I can't really find a lot of information on this so I decided to ask here

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  • $\begingroup$ You've surely seen some books on organic chemistry, right? Seen their breadth? Now that's how far are some organic compounds from some other organic compounds (and farther than that, too). Some would form nice sparkling crystals readily, and some wouldn't until you persuade them really, really hard, or maybe ever at all. Beeswax is on the bad side. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ nope I have not. I would consider myself a hobby chemist really. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Well, then the short answer is: no, you won't crystallize beeswax or any of its components. Try something nicer, like the examples from DrMoishe Pippik's answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 19:18

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Some chemicals, organic or not, naturally separate when crystallized. For example, mixed dextro- and levo- forms of tartaric acid ("racemic acid") were separated by Louis Pasteur by the arduous process of picking out right-handed from left-handed crystals.

Some chemicals form mixed crystals, such as chrome alum, $\ce{KCr(SO4)2}$ and ammonium alum, $\ce{(NH4)Al(SO4)2}$. Since these are both octahedral, with similar layout, crystallization would not serve to separate the components of a mixed solution; in fact, one can grow crystals ranging from colorless to deep purple by varying the proportions. This is an example of miscible solids.

As you state, beeswax is a mixture of many compounds. You might try to grow crystals of one component using various solvents, leaving most components undissolved, but crystallizing the mix is not feasible. BTW, honey naturally crystallizes since it's mostly glucose and fructose, already supersaturated. Emulate Pasteur, and pick apart some glucose and fructose crystals from crystallized honey. Eat the rest.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks this was very informative. I now believe that it is unlikely that more than one crystal compound would form because as soon as one crystallized the solution would likely drop below the necessary saturation to form crystals of any of the remaining compounds. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ this is a continuation: perhaps by this procedure, it would be possible to get crystals of varying composition in the same container without removing the solution. essentially 1. make a supersaturated solution of beeswax in acetone and let one of the compounds condense into a crystal. 2. make more batches of solution and repeat step one with those. 3. take the liquid solution from a batch then concentrate probably via evaporation to below a supersaturation point where crystal formation is possible again(not sure what this concentration would be). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ continuation: 4. add the concentrated solution from step 3 to the original solution while the formed crystals in that solution are still present. this should probably be done while the solution is heated from above slightly to increase the saturation to the point where it can form crystals while avoiding disturbing the liquid. lastly, a cooling system at the bottom of the vessel could help in forming crystals by increasing the saturation in lower layers, creating a temperature gradient resulting in convection, and lowering its ability to carry the organic compound next in line for formation. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ continuation: 5. repeat steps 1 through 4 each time removing from the solution to be added to the primary vessel the last crystallized compound in the primary vessel till you have in the primary vessel all the constituent compounds of beeswax in crystal form(if this is possible at all) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ it's also possible a centrifuge could expedite the process if the densities of the constituents of beeswax are not too similar in density. if visual separation is off issue perhaps you could find a process to bind dyes to various compounds put the dyed beeswax through the centrifuge and separate based on color. looking over this whole thing it's not super worth it to satisfy my love for shiny or geometrically interesting objects. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 20:43

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