"Smoking fingers" experiment

How to do a chemistry trick with smoking fingers

Some ma­gi­cians use chem­i­cal ex­per­i­ments in their work. Let’s dis­cov­er the se­cret of one of them in this in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ment, which ev­ery­one can con­duct at home, ob­serv­ing safe­ty pre­cau­tions.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • match­box;
  • porce­lain cup or dish;
  • lighter.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Cut the scratch pad off a match­box, re­mov­ing as much pa­per from it as pos­si­ble. Place it in a porce­lain cup or dish and ig­nite. Then re­move the un­burnt re­mains. At the bot­tom a thick oily liq­uid has formed. Put the liq­uid on your fin­gers and rub them to­geth­er.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

The scratch pad of the match­box con­tains red phos­pho­rous, and on burn­ing it turns to white phos­pho­rous, which be­cause of the mix­tures in it takes the form of a thick oily liq­uid on the bot­tom of the porce­lain cup. When this liq­uid is rubbed be­tween the fin­gers, the phos­pho­rous is ox­i­dized by the oxy­gen in the air to phos­pho­rous ox­ide (III) or phos­pho­rous ox­ide (V), and is re­leased in the form of white smoke.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

In car­ry­ing out this ex­per­i­ment, work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed room, and wear gloves and pro­tec­tive glass­es.

Warn­ing! Sub­stances of this ex­per­i­ment are tox­ic and high­ly dan­ger­ous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only un­der pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion.