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I was tasked with figuring out how to make some $\ce{NH4ClO4}$(ammonium perchlorate). I found that one way of making it was to react potassium perchlorate and ammonium chloride in a double displacement reaction. according to:

$\ce{KClO4 + NH4Cl -> NH4ClO4 + KCl}$

Then I got to work on finding ways of making the necessary reactants without having to buy them by doing additional reactions with easier to find chemicals. After some work I came up with these two reactions:

$\ce{KCl + NH4NO2 -> NH4Cl + KNO2}$ (to make the ammonium cloride)

and

$\ce{KCl + HClO4 -> KClO4 + HCl}$ (to make the potassium perchlorate)

My question is (the newbie part) how should I now go about these reactions? Should I be mixing the reactants together in an aqueous solution? In water? Should I be mixing them into an ionic solution in an electrolytic cell? Or hell do I just mix them together as a granulated form and apply a little heat? How do I get these reactions to occur?

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The Wikipedia article for ammonium perchlorate gives a hint at how this can be done. The hint is that ammonium perchlorate is curiously less soluble than sodium perchlorate, and thus with the right concentrations, you would get ammonium perchlorate to precipitate by mixing solutions of sodium perchlorate and and, say, ammonium chloride.

$$\ce{NH4Cl(aq) + NaClO4(aq) -> NH4ClO4(s) + NaCl(aq)}$$

That being said, the best advice that can be given on how to make ammonium perchlorate is

Don't. Especially do not use heat!

Ammonium perchlorate is fairly dangerous explosive that can decompose with not much provocation into a whole heck of a lot of gas for just a little bit of solid.

$$\ce{2NH4ClO4(s) -> N2(g) + Cl2(g) + O2(g) + 4H2O(g)}$$

That this decomposition produces toxic chlorine gas should only make you want to prepare ammonium perchlorate less.

Safely producing, storing, and transporting this compound is going to require a lot of specialized equipment and training (which is expensive). The danger here is not of the type that may lead to funny smells and dizziness in poorly ventilated rooms. The hazards associated with the compound involve loss of life or limb and serious structural damage if you look at it funny. Don't. For more information into the sort of destructive power ammonium perchlorate has, consider that this is the rocket fuel that got the space shuttle into low earth orbit. This stuff has the power to level industrial complexes with the forces of an earthquake.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for feedback. As to the safety, I am only researching and outlining a method from start to finish which I have to present to the engineering club. We will be making it together (yes our sponsors are chem majors) for use in rocket engines as part of the project. Everything will be handled safely but thanks for your concern. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Graham Jan 16 '15 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ This is not something that an undergraduate chemistry student will be prepared to do safely. This is the type of substance that has laws attached to it. $\endgroup$ – Ben Norris Jan 16 '15 at 16:23

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