Schweizer's reagent, or tetraamminediaquacopper dihydroxide, is used in the production of rayon. It does this by dissolving the cellulose which can be acidified to form strands of cellulose. I have had some success with this.

So, seeing as cellulose and nitrocellulose are rather similar, would it be able to dissolve it too? If not, why? The nitrocellulose would have to be able to survive the addition of acid, which should not be a problem since it is synthesized using sulfuric and nitric acids. So, as long as I use sulfuric acid it should work fine.

Something else that might affect it is how nitrated the cellulose is? Cellulose dinitrate and cellulose hexanitrate might act differently.

And now, assuming that it can dissolve it in some way, it could be extracted from that from celluloid plastic, like that found in ping pong (table tennis) balls?

So, by adding some ping pong ball to Schweizer's reagent, then letting it dissolve and adding it to a solution of sulfuric acid, the camphor in the celluloid would be left behind and you should end up with some sort of "nitro-rayon". This is a bit of a stretch, but to me seems feasible.

I will try this when I can, but for now I hope this is enough to prompt speculation.


Schweizer's reagent dissolves cellulose because it forms a complex with hydroxyl groups of glucose moieties. Therefore, a completely nitrated cellulose will not dissolve in Schweizer's reagent. However, the reagent is quite basic and it will cause a hydrolysis of the nitrocelulose, so it may dissolve eventually, but after precipitation it will be normal cellulose again. But there is also a good information for you: nitrocellulose easily dissolves in many organic solvents e.g., acetone, ethyl acetate, diethyl ether and so on. So once you have a nitrocellulose, you do not need to play with Schweizer's reagent.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Alright. Welp, from what I've heard most organic solvents turn ping pong balls into a paste rather then separate it. Thanks for the help. $\endgroup$ – ChemBird Jul 6 '16 at 13:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that celluloid in ping pong balls does not contain fully nitrated cellulose. And separating celluloid into components would be infeasible. $\endgroup$ – vapid Jul 6 '16 at 16:23

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.