“Dragon’s egg” experiment

How to make an iron egg in a glass shell

Do you like sto­ries about fan­tas­tic crea­tures? Chem­istry turns myths into re­al­i­ty! In this ex­per­i­ment we'll show you how to make a fiery drag­on's egg!

Warn­ing! Don’t try to re­peat this ex­per­i­ment with­out a pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion!

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • iron(III) ox­ide (20 g);
  • alu­minum pow­der (25 g);
  • potas­si­um per­man­ganate (5 g);
  • mag­ne­sium strip;
  • sand;
  • fil­ter pa­per;
  • lighter;
  • 2 beakers;
  • plas­tic spoon.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Pre­pare the mix­ture for the egg (mix­ture №1): put 20 g of iron(III) ox­ide and 20 g of alu­minum pow­der and mix thor­ough­ly.

Then pre­pare the in­cen­di­ary mix­ture (mix­ture № 2): mix 5 g of alu­minum pow­der and 5 g of potas­si­um per­man­ganate.

Take a bowl of sand to lo­cal­ize the flame.

Make a cone from fil­ter pa­per and place it in the sand.

Care­ful­ly pour the mix­ture for the egg (mix­ture №1) into the cone, then the in­cen­di­ary mix­ture (mix­ture № 2). Use a mag­ne­sium strip as a wick.

Light the wick!

The mix­ture im­me­di­ate­ly ig­nites and emits sparks. When the re­ac­tion ends, the mix­ture turns into an in­can­des­cent egg 2000°С, 2273 К, 3632 °F). Don’t touch the egg with your hands im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter the ex­per­i­ment – wait un­til it cools down!

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

A pow­dery mix­ture of alu­minum and iron(III) ox­ide is called ther­mite. It is ig­nit­ed by a spe­cial in­cen­di­ary mix­ture of potas­si­um per­man­ganate and alu­minum pow­der. When it ig­nites, ther­mite burns in­tense­ly, re­leas­ing a great deal of heat. The mix­ture heats up to 2000 °С (2273 К, 3632°F). Dur­ing the chem­i­cal re­ac­tion, alu­minum re­duces iron(III) ox­ide to metal­lic iron, and it­self ox­i­dizes to alu­minum ox­ide. At a high tem­per­a­ture, alu­minum ox­ide bakes to­geth­er with sand, form­ing a glass-like shell. We get an iron egg in a glass shell!

Ther­mites are used for weld­ing rails and cast­ing large ob­jects.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Wear pro­tec­tive gloves and glass­es and work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed room. Ob­serve safe­ty rules when work­ing with fire.