While cerium occurs in many minerals including, allanite, monazite, bastnasite, hydroxylbastnasite, rhabdophane and zircon, only monazite and bastnasite are used as a source of cerium. Cerium is not normally completely isolated, as it is used with a number of lanthanides that it occurs with in nature. The isolation of cerium from these other elements is complex and requires a number of steps; due to the complexity of cerium isolation, the separation process is only performed for commercial uses and not on a small scale laboratory basis.
During the first step in cerium isolation, the metals are extracted out of the mineral compounds as a salt through the use of sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. The ion of cerium is easily hydrolyzed and can be precipitated out as a salt through the addition of an oxidizing agent. Further electrolysis using heated, liquid, cerium chloride and sodium chloride in a graphite cell produces pure cerium and chlorine gas.