"Storm in a flask" experiment
How to make real lightings using simple chemicals
“Storm in a flask” is a spectacular and interesting experiment, which resembles a storm from out of a disaster movie.
Reagents and equipment:
- concentrated sulfuric acid (200 ml);
- isopropyl alcohol (100 ml );
- potassium permanganate crystals;
- measuring cylinders or measuring cups;
- a flat-bottomed flask with a volume of 2 l.
To conduct this experiment, pour concentrated sulfuric acid into a flask or cylinder, then carefully add isopropyl alcohol, so that the acid and alcohol do not mix. Then add potassium permanganate crystals. After a while flashes will appear on the dividing line between the alcohol and acid.
The flashes appear in the flask because of the interaction of potassium permanganate with concentrated sulfuric acid in which manganese oxide (VII) forms, a powerful oxidizer, which oxidizes the isopropyl alcohol to an acetone. Then the acetone is ignited by the manganese oxide (VII), thus creating “lightning” in the flask.
Always wear gloves and safety glasses when working with concentrated acids. Substances of this experiment are toxic and highly dangerous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only under professional supervision.