“Sinister Swamp” experiment

How to make a glowing “swamp”

Chemi­lu­mi­nes­cence is one of the most amaz­ing phe­nom­e­na in chem­istry. In this chem­i­cal re­ac­tion a great deal of light is emit­ted. Here’s a be­witch­ing chem­i­cal swamp that draws you in with its glow­ing lights.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • dimethyl sul­fox­ide;
  • sodi­um hy­drox­ide;
  • lu­mi­nol;
  • hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide (10%);
  • potas­si­um fer­ro­cyanide;
  • flask with stop­per;
  • beaker;
  • heat-re­sis­tant mold.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Put sodi­um hy­drox­ide in the flask, then add dimethyl sul­fox­ide, and then lu­mi­nol. Seal with the stop­per and mix well. Turn off the light and ob­serve the glow on the bound­ary line of the so­lu­tion and air. Shake the flask – the glow spreads through­out the whole flask. Then pour the con­tents of the flask into a heat-re­sis­tant mold and add a so­lu­tion of hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide and potas­si­um fer­ro­cyanide. Watch as a “sin­is­ter swamp” forms.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

In an al­ka­line medi­um, lu­mi­nol is eas­i­ly ox­i­dized by the oxy­gen in the air (if the flask is shak­en), or by a mix­ture of hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide and potas­si­um fer­ro­cyanide – this is a cat­a­lyst for the ox­i­da­tion of lu­mi­nol by the per­ox­ide. An un­sta­ble par­ti­cle forms, which breaks down with the re­lease of light.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Wear pro­tec­tive gloves and glass­es.

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