“Iron volcano” experiment
How to make a volcano of two powders
The saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover” also applies in chemistry: sometimes the dullest and plainest-looking substances display incredible properties. For example, in this experiment you can make a sparkling volcano from two powders.
Observe safety rules when working with flame and extremely hot objects. Wear protective gloves, a mask and glasses, and work in a well-ventilated room.
Warning! Don’t try to repeat this experiment without a professional supervision!
Reagents and equipment:
- iron powder (10 g);
- potassium nitrate (30 g);
- container with sand;
Mix potassium nitrate and iron powder in the beaker. Stir thoroughly. Make a hollow in the sand and pour in the resulting mixture. Ignite. Watch the volcano erupt.
Potassium nitrate is a strong oxidizer. When heated, it decomposes into oxygen, which reacts with the iron powder, oxidizing it to oxides. A great deal of heat energy is released, causing the sand to melt, and the mixture starts to resemble volcanic lava.
2КNO₃ = 2KNO₂ + O₂
Fe + O₂ = FeO + Fe₂O₃