“Charcoal foam” experiment

How to make a huge snake with sugar and sulfuric acid

In this cool and dan­ger­ous ex­per­i­ment, you’ll see how to cre­ate an enor­mous char­coal snake.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

The re­ac­tion mix­ture heats up in­tense­ly–avoid burns! Make sure sul­fu­ric acid doesn’t get on your skin or clothes. Wear pro­tec­tive glass­es and gloves. The ex­per­i­ment should be car­ried out in a fume hood or well-ven­ti­lat­ed room. Fol­low gen­er­al safe­ty rec­om­men­da­tions. Chem­i­cal ex­per­i­ments must be car­ried out in full com­pli­ance with the leg­is­la­tion of your coun­try.

Warn­ing! Don’t try to re­peat this ex­per­i­ment at home. This ex­per­i­ment is sup­posed to be con­duct­ed only by a pro­fes­sion­al.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • sug­ar;
  • con­cen­trat­ed sul­fu­ric acid;
  • glass cylin­der;
  • glass rod.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Fill a cylin­der ap­prox­i­mate­ly two thirds full of sug­ar. Add 30 ml of con­cen­trat­ed sul­fu­ric acid and stir with a glass rod. Af­ter a while a black col­umn of prod­ucts of the de­hy­dra­tion and ox­i­da­tion of sug­ar be­gin to come out of the cylin­der.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

Ow­ing to its de­hy­drat­ing and ox­i­diz­ing abil­i­ty, sul­fu­ric acid caus­es the break­down and car­boniza­tion of sug­ar. The mix­ture heats up, and wa­ter va­por, car­bon diox­ide and sul­fur diox­ide gas­es are re­leased. This leads to the prod­ucts of the break­down of sug­ar be­ing pushed out of the cylin­der. As soon as they make con­tact with air, they cool and hard­en.