Chemical magic tricks

Learn chemistry and do wonders!

Mag­ic and sci­ence of­ten go hand in hand. There are no mir­a­cles for a sci­en­tist, and seem­ing­ly fan­tas­tic phe­nom­e­na can be eas­i­ly ex­plained. For the av­er­age per­son, lab­o­ra­to­ry ex­per­i­ments look in­cred­i­ble and en­tranc­ing. This ar­ti­cle will lift the cur­tain on sev­er­al se­crets of chem­istry. With the tricks of­fered here, you can eas­i­ly im­press your friends and feel like a wiz­ard.

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A knowl­edge of the laws of chem­istry makes it pos­si­ble to demon­strate strik­ing trans­for­ma­tions, which will im­press ev­ery­one. We’ll look at three ef­fec­tive tricks which you can do at home. They can de­light both chil­dren and adults, and in­spire peo­ple to make new mag­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies. In skill­ful hands, or­di­nary items eas­i­ly be­come mag­i­cal.

A vol­cano on a plate

You can awak­en your own dor­mant vol­cano at home in mere min­utes. If the trick is done care­ful­ly and cor­rect­ly this will look im­pres­sive

You will need:

  • plas­ticine;
  • wa­ter;
  • soda;
  • vine­gar;
  • red and or­ange food col­or­ing.

Ex­per­i­ment pro­ce­dure

1. Make a dor­mant vol­cano.

Make a cone from plas­ticine so that it re­sem­bles a vol­cano. Place it on a flat plate. The plate should be larg­er than the base of the vol­cano, to leave space for the erupt­ing lava. The base can be dec­o­rat­ed with green grass for vis­ual ef­fect.

2. Pre­pare the lava.

Pour kitchen soda into the vol­cano crater. The amount de­pends on the size of the vol­cano. Do not fill the in­side of the vol­cano by more than 30%. Then add food col­or­ing. The col­or is very im­por­tant. The best ef­fect comes from com­bin­ing red and or­ange. The brighter it is, the more nat­u­ral the lava will look. You should per­form steps one and two be­fore show­ing the trick to view­ers. This will help to make the max­i­mum im­pres­sion.

3. Make the erup­tion.

Af­ter get­ting the au­di­ence ready and telling them about the unique, mag­i­cal awak­en­ing of the vol­cano, you can start to per­form the trick. Care­ful­ly add vine­gar, and watch the erup­tion and the amazed faces of the view­ers. It’s bet­ter to pour the vine­gar from an at­trac­tive trans­par­ent bot­tle. The vine­gar will look like or­di­nary wa­ter. This helps to amaze the view­ers even more.

Flame­proof mon­ey

This sim­ple trick is al­ways a great suc­cess. View­ers will no doubt want to watch it again, so you should have plen­ty of ma­te­ri­al.

You will need:

  • a ban­knote;
  • wa­ter;
  • al­co­hol;
  • salt;
  • tweez­ers;
  • bowl.

Ex­per­i­ment pro­ce­dure

1. Pre­pare the mag­ic so­lu­tion

Make a mix­ture of wa­ter and al­co­hol in the ra­tio of 1:1. Then add a pinch of salt and mix thor­ough­ly. Pour into an at­trac­tive bot­tle, so you can show the mag­ic liq­uid to the view­ers.

2. Soak the mon­ey in the mag­ic liq­uid.

When you have gath­ered your au­di­ence, fill the bowl with so­lu­tion. Then im­merse the ban­knote in it and let it soak. The main thing is not to keep it there too long, or the pa­per will curl up and tear when you take it out.

3. Set the ban­knote on fire.

At this stage it’s bet­ter to use the tweez­ers. Hold­ing the ban­knote tight­ly, bring the lighter up to it and quick­ly move the fire away from your­self. You should do this process very care­ful­ly, so the flame doesn’t touch sur­round­ing ob­jects. The burn­ing will stop quite quick­ly, leav­ing the ban­knote un­harmed. This hap­pens be­cause of the prop­er­ties of the liq­uids in the mag­ic so­lu­tion. The al­co­hol burns off be­fore the flame can dry out the wa­ter and burn the note.

You can ask the view­ers for as­sis­tance and to give you their own mon­ey for the sake of ex­per­i­ment. The trick can also be per­formed with ran­dom­ly se­lect­ed pa­per items. It can work well with an open book. To pro­vide more mag­ic and mys­tery, you can chant in­can­ta­tions as you soak ob­jects with the pro­tec­tive elixir. We also rec­om­mend you to per­form an ex­per­i­ment, where a bright flame goes out of an emp­ty flask.

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Pur­ple smoke

This in­ter­est­ing chem­i­cal ex­per­i­ment looks ex­treme­ly orig­i­nal. In the re­ac­tion process a thick pur­ple smoke ap­pears with flames and sparks.

You will need:

  • alu­minum pow­der
  • io­dine;
  • wa­ter;
  • a cup made of re­in­forced glass, met­al or ce­ram­ics;
  • a pipette or bot­tle with a spray noz­zle.

Ex­per­i­ment pro­ce­dure

1. Pre­pare the mag­ic liq­uid.

The trick will be more ef­fec­tive if you use dis­tilled wa­ter. You can buy it in ready form, or make it your­self, by a sep­a­rate chem­i­cal process.

For this mag­ic trick you will only need a few drops. So you should work on the method of adding the wa­ter be­fore­hand. For con­ve­nience you can use a bot­tle with a spray noz­zle. Al­though a pipette will also do.

2. Choose the place to con­duct the ex­per­i­ment.

As the smoke that is caused in the re­ac­tion is not par­tic­u­lar­ly healthy, it’s im­por­tant to ob­serve safe­ty rules. The main con­di­tion is a well ven­ti­lat­ed space. There should be an air vent. If you feel the urge to make pur­ple smoke at home, you’d bet­ter think twice. If there’s no air vent, it’s bet­ter to do the trick out­side.

3. Make the mag­ic pow­der.

Pour a heap of alu­minum shav­ings into the ce­ram­ic cup. Add the io­dine so­lu­tion to it and stir gen­tly. You can’t use a glass ves­sel, as when the tem­per­a­ture ris­es or­di­nary glass will break.

4. Make the pur­ple smoke.

Help the mag­ic pow­der to catch fire. Slow­ly add the mag­ic liq­uid, drop by drop. The mix­ture will swift­ly burst into bright flames, sparks will fly, and it will start to turn into thick, pur­ple smoke.


The an­swer to the ques­tion “why?” is ex­treme­ly sim­ple. Wa­ter acts as a cat­a­lyst and ac­ti­vates the io­dine. The pro­tec­tive film is re­moved from the alu­minum and the re­ac­tion takes place. As a re­sult, burn­ing takes place with the sub­li­ma­tion of a halo­gen.

Mag­ne­sium pow­der will give a sim­i­lar re­sult. By chang­ing the ra­tio of alu­minum (or mag­ne­sium) shav­ings and io­dine, you can make more smoke or more fire. If you add too much io­dine, the heat of the re­ac­tion will go to­wards the sub­li­ma­tion of this halo­gen, and the mix­ture will not catch fire. There will sim­ply be a lot of smoke.

We hope this ar­ti­cle will in­spire you to at­tempt oth­er mag­ic tricks your­self. Study­ing chem­istry will help to find out many in­ter­est­ing facts. The knowl­edge you gain may come in handy in en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple, and may also be use­ful in solv­ing a num­ber of house­hold prob­lems.