"Purple haze" experiment

How to make a purple sparkling smoke with aluminum and iodine

Chem­i­cal ex­per­i­ments come in dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes: they may fea­ture many col­ors, foam, fire etc. This ex­per­i­ment is im­pres­sive be­cause in the in­ter­ac­tion of two seem­ing­ly un­re­mark­able sub­stances, a sparkling and smok­ing vol­cano is formed.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • alu­minum shav­ings;
  • crys­tal io­dine;
  • wa­ter;
  • porce­lain cup;
  • tweez­ers.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

In the porce­lain cup, mix the alu­minum shav­ings and the crys­tal io­dine. Add a lit­tle wa­ter. Ob­serve the for­ma­tion of sparks and the re­lease of pur­ple smoke.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

The mix­ture of alu­minum and io­dine does not re­act in it­self, as alu­minum is cov­ered with an ox­ide lay­er, which pro­tects it from chem­i­cal ag­gres­sion, but if you add a lit­tle wa­ter, the re­ac­tion is ac­com­pa­nied by the re­lease of alu­minum sparks and gaseous io­dine, and the for­ma­tion of alu­minum io­dide. Wa­ter is the ini­tia­tor of this re­ac­tion. The io­dine, like oth­er halo­gens, dis­solves in wa­ter, with the for­ma­tion of hy­droiod­ic and hy­poiodous acids, which dis­solve the ox­ide lay­er from the sur­face of the alu­minum. The alu­minum then en­ters into a re­ac­tion with io­dine, with the for­ma­tion of alu­minum io­dide. This is an exother­mic re­ac­tion, the heat re­leased warms the crys­tal io­dine and it sub­li­mates, form­ing a pur­ple va­por.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Wear pro­tec­tive gloves and glass­es and work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed room.

Warn­ing! Only un­der pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion.