“Explosive chemical snake” experiment

How to make a huge foamy snake from nitroaniline and sulfuric acid

In chem­istry al­most ev­ery ex­per­i­ment is a show with spe­cial ef­fects. For ex­am­ple, in this en­ter­tain­ing ex­per­i­ment an enor­mous foamy snake sud­den­ly ap­pears out of thick yel­low smoke.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Wear a pro­tec­tive mask, gloves and glass­es, and work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed room. Ob­serve safe­ty rules when work­ing with con­cen­trat­ed acids and flame.

Warn­ing! Do not try this at home. Only un­der pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • 4-ni­troani­line;
  • con­cen­trat­ed sul­fu­ric acid;
  • evap­o­ra­tion bowl;
  • hot plate or oth­er heat­ing de­vice;
  • glass rod.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

We add 4-ni­troani­line and sev­er­al drops of con­cen­trat­ed sul­fu­ric acid to the bowl. Then, we stir them thor­ough­ly and place on the hot plate or burn­er. Soon an enor­mous black snake crawls out of the bowl!

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

Heat­ing the mix­ture leads to the break­down of 4-ni­troani­line to car­bon and sol­id or­gan­ic re­mains, and wa­ter va­por, car­bon diox­ide and sul­fur diox­ide are re­leased, which froth up the prod­ucts of break­down into an enor­mous black snake.