Re: Fun Chemistry Projects
The key to electrolysis (i.e. making hydrogen) is knowing that water doesn't ionize much on its own and hence makes a poor conductor. On the other hand, adding a little table salt will make everything run significantly faster (with the downside of also making chlorine). However, much of the chlorine gas tends to immediately react with the electrodes (unless you use something like graphite, a non-ionic conductor.. you can pull rods from heavy-duty batteries), so most of what you get is, in fact, hydrogen.
You can try adding different metal powders into regular fireworks. For example, copper gives stuff a greenish/teal tint, cobalt is straight up blue, a little lithium salt (available as a treatment for bipolar) gives it a red color. Aluminium by itself burns bright white/silver.
Potassium permanganate is a very strong oxidizer and so makes stuff burn that much better/faster and used to be available in drug stores as a disinfectant. Making a weak solution of it and treating wood with it gives it an old-timey look, but takes some practice since too much and it just looks really purple. Also stains absolutely everything, so make sure not to do it in a bathtub/sink unless you want it to look rusty.
KMnO4 also reacts with glycerin to produce heat. Same with sulphuric acid, but don't try this one at home so you don't burn your hands by accident. Mixing it with aluminum powder can make a bright magnesium-like flash. Overall, a very fun chemical to have around.
Concentrated sulphuric acid and powdered sugar (i.e. icing powder) readily react: pouring a lot of acid into a beaker of sugar will cause a big column of black stuff to rise from the top: acid will dehydrate sugar and leave carbon. Do it outside or in a fume hood. Interestingly, something similar happens when H2SO4 comes in contact with cotton: my lab coats still has places that look like they've been literally burned. They even smell the same.
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Last edited by Don Julio Anejo : 11-14-2012 at 05:44 PM.