I don’t know what my motivation for this experiment was, but the outcome was surprisingly successful.
So I went for the so-called Castner process, which is based on electrolysis of molten sodium hydroxide. This requires only a temperature of about 330°C, which is easily achievable by an alcohol burner.
To protect my table from spills of molten sodium hydroxide, I placed the bowl that contained the melt inside a metal can. To guarantee heat conduction and electrical contact i placed the bowl on top of some tin, which would then melt and provide good connection between the two cans.
The cathode was a thick steel wire which was placed above the can.
The first try was moderately successful. As you can see in the photos, a lot of blue crystals formed. I don’t know where they came from and they did not occur in the second try.
A small droplet of molten sodium quickly formed at the cathode but it proved to be nearly impossible to get it out of the melt. I finally manged to get some out with a loop of wire. The sodium was immedatly put in molten wax to protect it from humidity.
Next time i will try to build something resembling the draft from the wikipedia article to get better results.