“Acetone torch” experiment
How to make a copper wire glow in the dark
In this cool experiment, an incandescent copper wire burns in a flask filled with acetone vapor.
Avoid burns! Wear protective glasses and gloves. Don’t conduct the experiment near flammable substances and objects. Fire-extinguishing equipment should be at the ready. The experiment should be carried out in a fume hood or a well-ventilated room. Follow general safety recommendations. Chemical experiments must be carried out in full compliance with the legislation of your country.
Reagents and equipment:
- copper wire;
Pour 20-30 ml of acetone into a beaker. Roll the copper wire into a spiral or any other shape and heat it with a burner until it turns red. Carefully lower the copper wire into the beaker so that the wire does not touch the surface of the acetone. Watch as the spiral begins to glow more and more brightly. We recommend you conduct the experiment in a dark room.
Acetone is a highly volatile liquid. Its vapor quickly fills the air space in the beaker. When the incandescent copper wire is lowered into the acetone vapor, a reaction begins on the surface of the metal, which is catalyzed by the copper:
2(СН₃)₂СО + О₂ = СН₃СООН + 2СН₃СНО
In this reaction a great deal of heat is released, so the copper wire does not cool down, and heats up even more, which explains why it glows.