5 stereotype-breaking experiments

How to perform amazing chemical experiments at home

Can you run on wa­ter? Of course!

Just mix wa­ter with starch in a 2:1 ra­tio. Now we’re deal­ing with a non-New­to­ni­an flu­id, which acts sus­pi­cious­ly un­like nor­mal liq­uids. The bonds be­tween the mol­e­cules of a non-New­to­ni­an flu­id strength­en when act­ed on by an out­side force. If such a liq­uid is knead­ed, dropped, or hit, it acts like a hard ob­ject, but as soon as it’s left alone, this “hard ob­ject” melts away.

Lev­i­tat­ing soap bub­bles!

As we con­tin­ue break­ing the laws of physics… Soap bub­bles are air trapped in a soapy shell. But why do they swim grace­ful­ly in our con­tain­er in­stead of fall­ing to the bot­tom? For full dis­clo­sure, the bub­bles have al­ready fall­en. The se­cret? Mix­ing bak­ing soda with vine­gar re­leas­es car­bon diox­ide. Since car­bon diox­ide is heav­ier than air, it can eas­i­ly be poured into a con­tain­er. This cre­ates an in­vis­i­ble “pil­low” on which the bub­bles come to rest.

Turn­ing an egg into a boun­cy ball!

Let’s im­merse an egg in vine­gar. Leave it for six hours min­i­mum so the shell can dis­solve com­plete­ly. And our boun­cy ball is ready! An eggshell con­sists large­ly of cal­ci­um car­bon­ate. This com­pound dis­solves eas­i­ly in vine­gar, re­leas­ing car­bon diox­ide gas. In the end, only a thin film is left; this film keeps the egg con­tained and makes it as springy as a rub­ber ball! But be care­ful – the film is rather frag­ile. An egg that is dropped too am­bi­tious­ly or squeezed too rough­ly can make an un­planned mess!

Or­ange rind can kill… a bal­loon!

Or­ange peel con­tains flammable, volatile oils. Point­ing the skin at a flame and squeez­ing it sharply will cause the flame to spark and dance as the oils catch fire! This ex­per­i­ment is im­pres­sive, but be care­ful: fol­low fire safe­ty pre­cau­tions.

Or­ange rind also con­tains a high con­cen­tra­tion of limonene – a com­pound that ac­tive­ly dis­solves rub­ber. Point­ing and squeez­ing an or­ange rind in the di­rec­tion of an in­flat­ed bal­loon re­leas­es limonene, which dis­solves the thin rub­ber lay­er and caus­es the bal­loon to burst!

As you may have guessed, you can use a va­ri­ety of cit­rus fruits to sim­i­lar ef­fect: limes, lemons, man­darins, and grape­fruits all con­tain enough volatile oils to get the job done.

A large piece of poly­styrene foam vs. a few drops of ace­tone

To learn who will win this bat­tle, just drip a few drops of ace­tone onto a piece of poly­styrene foam. Poly­styrene is a ma­te­ri­al that par­tial­ly dis­solves in ace­tone and los­es its struc­ture. Mean­while, the air trapped in the foam is re­leased, which sharply de­creas­es the foam’s vol­ume. This caus­es the foam to lit­er­al­ly melt be­fore our eyes.