How to Mix Ferric Chloride

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Introduction to Ferric Chloride

Ferric chloride, also known as iron(III) chloride or FeCl3, is a commonly used chemical compound with a wide range of applications. It appears as a dark green or brownish-black solid at room temperature and is highly soluble in water. Ferric chloride is used in various industries, such as water treatment, electronics, and chemical synthesis.

Properties of Ferric Chloride

Property Value
Molecular formula FeCl3
Molar mass 162.204 g/mol
Appearance Dark green or brownish-black solid
Density 2.9 g/cm³
Melting point 307.6 °C (585.7 °F; 580.8 K)
Boiling point 316 °C (601 °F; 589 K) (decomposes)
Solubility in water 92 g/100 mL (20 °C)
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Safety Precautions When Handling Ferric Chloride

Before Mixing Ferric Chloride, it is essential to understand the safety precautions required when handling this chemical compound.


  • Ferric chloride is corrosive and can cause severe skin burns and eye damage.
  • Inhalation of ferric chloride dust or mist can irritate the respiratory tract.
  • Ingestion of ferric chloride can cause gastrointestinal irritation and may be harmful if swallowed.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When handling ferric chloride, always wear the following PPE:

  • Safety goggles or face shield
  • Nitrile or neoprene gloves
  • Lab coat or protective clothing
  • Closed-toe shoes

Handling and Storage

  • Store ferric chloride in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area away from incompatible substances.
  • Keep the container tightly closed when not in use.
  • Avoid generating dust or mist when handling ferric chloride.
  • Use ferric chloride only in a fume hood or well-ventilated area.

Mixing Ferric Chloride Solutions

Materials Required

  • Ferric chloride (solid)
  • Distilled or deionized water
  • Graduated cylinder
  • Beaker
  • Stirring rod
  • Weighing balance
  • pH meter (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Determine the desired concentration of your ferric chloride solution. Common concentrations range from 1% to 40% by weight.

  2. Calculate the amount of ferric chloride needed to achieve the desired concentration. For example, to prepare 1 L of a 10% (w/v) solution, you would need 100 g of ferric chloride.

  3. Weigh the appropriate amount of ferric chloride using a weighing balance.

  4. In a beaker, measure the required volume of distilled or deionized water using a graduated cylinder.

  5. Slowly add the ferric chloride to the water while stirring continuously with a stirring rod. Avoid generating dust or splashes.

  6. Continue stirring until the ferric chloride is completely dissolved. The solution will have a brownish-yellow color.

  7. If desired, check the pH of the solution using a pH meter. Ferric chloride solutions are typically acidic, with a pH ranging from 1 to 2.

  8. Transfer the ferric chloride solution to a labeled, airtight container for storage.

Applications of Ferric Chloride Solutions

Water Treatment

Ferric chloride is commonly used in water treatment processes for the following purposes:

  • Coagulation and flocculation: Ferric chloride helps remove suspended particles and colloids from water by promoting their aggregation and settling.
  • Phosphate removal: Ferric chloride can precipitate phosphates from water, reducing the risk of eutrophication in receiving water bodies.
  • Odor and taste control: Ferric chloride can help remove compounds that cause unpleasant odors and tastes in water, such as hydrogen sulfide.

Electronics Industry

In the electronics industry, ferric chloride solutions are used for:

  • Etching printed Circuit Boards (PCBs): Ferric chloride is an effective etchant for removing unwanted copper from PCBs, creating the desired circuit patterns.
  • Surface treatment of metals: Ferric chloride can be used to clean and activate metal surfaces before further processing, such as plating or coating.

Chemical Synthesis

Ferric chloride is used as a catalyst or reagent in various chemical synthesis processes, including:

  • Friedel-Crafts reactions: Ferric chloride can catalyze alkylation and acylation reactions of aromatic compounds.
  • Oxidation reactions: Ferric chloride is a mild oxidizing agent and can be used in the oxidation of organic compounds.

Disposal of Ferric Chloride Solutions

Proper disposal of ferric chloride solutions is crucial to minimize environmental impact and ensure compliance with local regulations.

  • Do not pour ferric chloride solutions down the drain or into the environment.
  • Collect used or expired ferric chloride solutions in clearly labeled containers.
  • Contact your local waste management authority or a licensed chemical waste disposal company for guidance on proper disposal methods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Q: What is the shelf life of ferric chloride solutions?
    A: The shelf life of ferric chloride solutions depends on the concentration and storage conditions. Generally, solutions should be used within 6 months to 1 year for optimal performance. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations and expiration date.

  2. Q: Can I use tap water instead of distilled or deionized water to prepare ferric chloride solutions?
    A: It is not recommended to use tap water, as it may contain impurities that can affect the performance of the ferric chloride solution. Always use distilled or deionized water for the best results.

  3. Q: How do I store ferric chloride solutions?
    A: Store ferric chloride solutions in airtight, clearly labeled containers in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area away from incompatible substances. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or heat sources.

  4. Q: What should I do if I spill ferric chloride solution on my skin or eyes?
    A: In case of skin contact, immediately remove contaminated clothing and rinse the affected area with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. For eye contact, rinse with water for at least 15 minutes, holding the eyelids apart. Seek medical attention if irritation persists.

  5. Q: Can I reuse ferric chloride solutions?
    A: Ferric chloride solutions can be reused until they lose their effectiveness. The number of times a solution can be reused depends on the application and the amount of contaminants accumulated in the solution. Regularly check the pH and performance of the solution to determine when it needs to be replaced.


Mixing ferric chloride solutions requires careful attention to safety precautions and proper handling techniques. By following the step-by-step instructions provided and using the appropriate personal protective equipment, you can prepare ferric chloride solutions for various applications in water treatment, electronics, and chemical synthesis. Always dispose of used or expired solutions in accordance with local regulations to minimize environmental impact.