Can I seperate soil/sand into compounds then elements??

I have this science project for my school and I thought it would be cool if I could extract random cool elements from the soil. I can use the lab stuff from my school so that is not the problem but I need to know how to seperate the soil. I was looking on google forever and then decided to join this forum then ask, you talk about cool stuff here. Can anyone help me with my problem of seperation of soil into compounds then into elements?? I'm hoping that once I do that then I can make new things out of the things I find. Thanks.


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soil is mainly tiny bits of rock (which is mainly silicate minerals... Aluminum and iron silicates, perhaps?)
and bits of decaying organic matter (thus contains C, H, O; N, S, P .... and dozens or so trace elements)

The easiest way to turn soil into other things is to plant some seeds in it, and keep it damp, warm and sunlit -)

hahaha yes this is true, but say I wanted to prove that there was silicone in the soil how would I do this?

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Burn the soil as ores in furnaces to extract semimetals such as silicon. See some pure silicon extracted from soil [url=]HERE[/url] in United Nuclear, a foreign (American) shop.[/url]

uhh well I can't get anything up to 2,700 degrees but does anyone know how hot natural gas/propane burns?? I was able to get copper to glow red it was really cool and make a green flame but copper has a high melting point too.

Natural gas burns about 1000'C in an ordinary Bunsen Burner powered by towngas.

Copper has a high melting point because the atom is small enough and therefore the etallic bonds are strong enough.

Well if I had access to the right equipment, I would burn off the organics, and take it too 1000C (should decompose most stuff). Mass spec the exhaust gases to see what ya have coming off. The remnents will be various oxides. To analyze those, it would require either an electron microscope or if you have LOTS of time and the right equipment, X-ray diffration.

Energy dispersive spectroscopy on the electron microscope can detect X-rays characteristic to individual elements. You basically go through matching X-ray energy to elements. Really quick and simple.

X-ray diffraction would take 30 minutes to run the scan, but hours matching proper crystal patterns with such an unknown sample. Usually this is used if you have a really good idea what sort of material you are looking at, or have a simple mixture of compounds. Sand would be a great candidate for this. Can see what sort of SiO2 you have, as it has many many polymorphs (quartz is just 1 of them).

Regaurdless, you are obviously going to need access to this sort of equipment (local universitys etc). I'm not real familar with liquid type detections such as titrations. I see that as difficult to do as well.

The nuclear company's Silicon is 99.999% pure but we should not need this high quality. Burning it in some 1000'C will burn off most things and leave the Silicon of more than 60% purity (at least). It still works. Also mineral silicon can be easily bought from stone shops. Stone shops are helpful.

he wants to detect silicon found naturally in dirt. Its in the form of silicates/alumino-silicates. To reduce silicon and aluminum to semimetallic/metallic requires ALOT of energy - reducing atmosphere, ++++ temperature = $$$. To purify it, its reacted to SiCl4 purified in the gas state, then reacted to form Si and 2Cl2. Its not easy, its not cheap, nor would I want to mess with SiCl4, as its HIGHLY explosive and very toxic.

Everyone knows the most profitable recycling is done on Aluminum soda cans. Reducing Al2O3 (bauxite) mined from the earth to form Al + O2, is very expensive because of the energy required to do so. Its blasted with hundreds of melt an Aluminum soda can requires only 900C furnace. Low temperature by metal processing standards.

If you want to make silicon from this little soil, money is of course needed.

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