Fire in a glass

Is it possible to obtain flammable gas from a non-flammable salt?

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

At­ten­tion! All ex­per­i­ments were per­formed by pro­fes­sion­als. Do not at­tempt.


  • heater;
  • tray;
  • cork stands;
  • sol­id fuel;
  • beaker;
  • alu­minum foil;
  • cal­ci­um chlo­ride;
  • sodi­um ac­etate.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

A heater is set on a tray with cork stands. Cal­ci­um chlo­ride and sodi­um ac­etate are mea­sured into a beaker, which is then cov­ered with alu­minum foil and heat­ed with sol­id fuel. Af­ter the beaker cools, the foil is re­moved and a lit match is low­ered into the beaker – and a flame flares up!

Process de­scrip­tion

Heat­ing cal­ci­um chlo­ride with sodi­um ac­etate pro­duces sodi­um chlo­ride and cal­ci­um ac­etate:

2CH₃­CO₂­Na + Ca­Cl₂ ⇄ 2Na­Cl +(CH₃­CO₂)₂Ca

The lat­ter then de­com­pos­es upon fur­ther in­tense heat­ing:

(CH₃­CO₂)₂Ca → Ca­CO₃ + (CH₃)₂CO

This also pro­duces a volatile and flammable sub­stance – ace­tone. Its va­por burns eas­i­ly when a burn­ing match is low­ered into the beaker:

(CH₃)₂CO + 4O₂ → 3CO₂ + 3H₂O

Cal­ci­um ac­etate can also be used to make a flammable gel. For a sim­i­lar ex­per­i­ment, see the link.

Safe ex­per­i­ments await you in the MEL Chem­istry sub­scrip­tion!