Well...yes now I see you were working with molten sodium.
Yes I am thinking of flammability and if any problem occurs, that is not an inert atmosphere but a highly flammable and in some cases explosive atmosphere.
Two step process, hardly. No iron, let me give you an example so you can see better...I don't think we are on the same page:Reduction of 4-Me-2,5-DMNS
In a 500ml RBF with stir bar and condenser is added 90ml IPA and 30ml dH2O followed by NaBH4 (4.85g ~129mmol 4eq.) in one portion. Minor fizzing.
Portion wise with good stirring and no cooling there is added 4-Me-2,5-DMNS (7.2g, 30.7mmol). The solution heats to about 45-50C. After addition (it takes about 25minutes) it is stirred for 30 minutes longer. There is a white ppt.
Then the flask is cooled well in ice and slowly keeping temp about 5C about 12ml GAA is added to quench excess borohydride.
white ppt gets thicker but then most dissolves.
In one portion there is added zinc dust (21g, 10eq) then over 1 hour there is added drop wise 75ml 32% aq. HCl.
Ater addition it is stirred at RT for 2 more hours.
Then after this time the reaction mix is filtered and zinc washed with IPA or MeOH. The filtrate is evaporated in vacuum until mostly water is remaining, then it is basified with excess 25% aq NaOH to dissolve salts.
It is extracted 5 times with DCM 75ml, combined extracts washed with 150 ml dilute aq NaOH, twice 200ml water then brine 200ml. The solvent is evaporated and 20ml IPA added to the residue.
Aq HCl is added until it is neutral, then excess acetone/Et2O is added to precipitate the hydrochloride salt.
It is filtered, washed with acetone.
A second crop is obtained by putting the filtrate in the freezer overnight.
Total yield 3.9g fluffy , white crystals, 65%.
Same general procedure has been used several times, works well each time. Lowest yield was 59% on this substrate. This reduction technique has been used on a slew of 2C-T-x nitroethenes too, works well.
You can see how much easier that is than pretty much anything else. I'm sure those who can acquire the necessary things to handle LAH and solvents used for that can get NaBH4. Just something to think about.
The above procedure works for nitropropene and nitrobutene. Just make sure to keep the temp low during quench, extremely important. You could post extract with toluene, DCM results in some emulsion it's no problem really.