Holiday tin tree

How can you make a small tin tree grow beautiful “snowy” needles in a few minutes?

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

At­ten­tion! Only un­der adult su­per­vi­sion.


  • zinc wire;
  • thread;
  • wood­en stick;
  • tin(II) chlo­ride;
  • sodi­um hy­dro­gen sul­fate;
  • glass con­tain­er;
  • beaker of wa­ter.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Dis­solve some tin(II) chlo­ride and sodi­um hy­dro­gen sul­fate in a beaker of wa­ter, then trans­fer the so­lu­tion to a larg­er glass con­tain­er. Bend a zinc wire into the shape of a tree and sus­pend it in the con­tain­er by a thread tied to a wood­en stick. In a few min­utes, the tree is cov­ered in fluffy “snow”!

Process de­scrip­tion

Zinc is lo­cat­ed to the left of tin in the re­ac­tiv­i­ty se­ries, mean­ing that it is chem­i­cal­ly more ac­tive and eas­i­ly takes part in re­dox re­ac­tions with so­lu­tions of tin(II) salts. In this case, the tin moves from the so­lu­tion to a metal­lic state, form­ing beau­ti­ful crys­tals on the sur­face of the zinc wire:

SnCl₂ + Zn → Sn↓ + Zn­Cl₂

A sim­i­lar ex­per­i­ment is in­clud­ed in the “Tin” set from the MEL Chem­istry sub­scrip­tion.