Top 10 safe chemical reactions
Easy experiments to do at home
There are several chemical reactions you can safely and easily perform at home. The following experiments are generally easy to find supplies for, easy to implement, and safe with the observance of basic precautions. Which of these will end up on your to-do list?
1 — “Sugar snake”
This demonstration is likely the most spectacular experiment among safe chemical reactions. You’ll need a fire-resistant slab, a tablet of solid fuel, and two tablets of calcium gluconate (most likely available at your local pharmacy). The experiment is simple. Set the solid fuel on the tile and ignite it, then use tweezers to add two tablets of calcium gluconate. Observe as the substance twists and morphs into long ribbons that resemble snakes. This reaction has a simple explanation: as the calcium gluconate burns, it releases carbon dioxide, which fills and drastically increases the volume of the burnt substance.
2 — Copper(II) hydroxide and glucose
To conduct this experiment, you’ll need copper(II) sulfate, an alkali solution of sodium hydroxide (sold in hardware stores), and a glucose solution (sold in pharmacies). Mixing copper(II) sulfate and sodium hydroxide will yield a blue precipitate. Gradually adding glucose and heating will cause the blue precipitate to disappear, and the solution will turn first yellow, then red.
3 — Chemical lamp
You’ll need a transparent bottle, water, sunflower oil, an aspirin, and red or blue food coloring. To make the lamp, mix the sunflower oil and water in the bottle. Pour the food coloring into the emulsion and add the aspirin. Colored flakes will rise to the surface of the emulsion without mixing with the oil. If you shine a light through the solution in the dark, the lamp will glow a mesmerizing red or blue.
4 — Green flame
Be sure to wear gloves and observe specific precautions when working with sulfuric and boric acids. Boric acid crystals can be purchased at your local pharmacy. This reaction requires boric acid crystals, ethyl alcohol, porcelain, a heat-resistant cup, and several drops of sulfuric acid. Start by adding ethyl alcohol to a porcelain cup containing boric acid crystals. Then add two drops of sulfuric acid and set fire to the solution. The flame will turn green due to the combustion of a compound of ethyl alcohol and boric acid – so-called triethyl borate. This process can be illustrated with two chemical reactions:
3С₂Н₅ОН + Н₃ВО₃ = (С₂Н₅О)₃В + 3Н₂О
2(С₂Н₅О)₃В + 18О₂ = В₂О₃ + 12СО₂ + 15Н₂О
Warning! Do not handle sodium tetraborate if pregnant!
5 — Making an iron nail “copper”
For this experiment, you’ll need a copper wire, an iron nail, acetic acid (vinegar), table salt, and baking soda. First, mix the vinegar with the salt and immerse an iron nail in the solution. Then, clean the surface of the copper wire with baking soda and place it in the solution. Wait for half an hour and retrieve the iron nail, which should now be covered in copper. This occurs via two reactions: the reaction of copper with acetic acid in the presence of atmospheric oxygen, and the substitution of the obtained copper acetate with iron acetate.
6 — Non-flammable money
Apply some potassium alum solution to a banknote. Place the treated bill in a paper envelope, hold the envelope with tweezers, and set fire to it. The envelope will burn, but the banknote will remain unscathed. The money doesn’t burn due to the alum, which itself does not burn, and doesn’t allow the bill to burn.
7 — Non-flammable money (2)
To conduct this experiment, you’ll need to mix half a glass of 96% ethyl alcohol and half a glass of water, then dissolve a pinch of salt in the resulting solution. Use tweezers to dip a banknote in the solution for a few seconds, then take it out and and set fire to it with a lighter. The ethyl alcohol coating the bill will burn away, while the sodden banknote will remain unharmed. Once it dries out, you can use it just as you normally would!
8 — Starch and iodine
To conduct this experiment, you’ll need a heat-resistant flask, 20 g of starch, and 5 drops of iodine solution. Mix the starch with water, then add the iodine solution. At room temperature, the solution turns dark blue. If you heat the obtained solution on an electric stove, it will turn colorless once again. This reaction can serve to prove that starch can form a compound with an iodine solution. As the solution of iodine and starch is unstable, the starch reforms when heat is applied, and the free iodine evaporates. Look here for more interesting experiments with starch.
9 — Potassium permanganate and hydrogen peroxide
First, pulverize a tablet of UHP (hydrogen peroxide - urea) and transfer the powder to a glass jar. Add liquid soap and water. Next, prepare an aqueous solution of potassium permanganate. Pour the potassium permanganate solution into the glass jar with soap and hydrogen peroxide. Observe the violent oxidation-reduction reaction and the formation of pink foam. This reaction releases oxygen, which fills the liquid soap with gas bubbles and helps create foam. The chemical reaction takes place according to the equation:
4KMnO₄ + 4H₂O₂ = 4MnO₂ + 5O₂↑+ 2H₂O + 4KOH
We should note that you absolutely should not touch the alkaline solution obtained in the reaction.
10 — Baking soda and acetic acid
To initiate the reaction, pour 20 g of baking soda into a glass jar and add 50 mL of acetic acid. The baking soda will start to foam, releasing carbon dioxide. The reaction takes place according to the equation:
NaHCO₃ + CH₃COOH = CH₃COONa + H₂О + CO₂↑