"Sugar dragon" experiment
How to make a fire fountain
You won’t find any living dragons today, but you can recreate the fiery breath of the fearsome creature through chemistry. We present the “Sugar Dragon” self-ignition experiment.
Reagents and equipment:
- matchboxes (10);
- sugar powder (0.5 g );
- concentrated sulfuric acid (1 ml );
- candle holder.
For the experiment, we take 10 matchboxes. We remove the ignition compound (heads) from the matches, and get a quantity of 0.85 g. Then we sprinkle this mass in a candle holder and mix it with sugar powder. We add several drops of concentrated sulfuric acid to the mixture. The mixture immediately ignites, and burns with a bright flame.
Matchheads consist 50% of potassium chlorate (KClO₃). As we know, potassium chlorate is a very strong oxidizer, and sugar powder will act as a reducer. In the presence of concentrated sulfuric acid, the disproportionation of potassium chlorate (KClO₃) takes place with the formation of chlorine dioxide:
3KClO₃ + 2H₂SO₄ → 2KHSO₄ + 2ClO₂ + KClO₄ + H₂O
Chlorine dioxide ClO₂ is a strong and very energetic oxidizer. ClO₂ will initiate a reaction between the chlorate and sugar. The interaction of sugar and potassium chlorate takes place violently, the mixture ignites and burns with a large amount of gases:
C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁ + 8KClO₃ = 8KCl + 12CO₂ + 11H₂O
In working with concentrated sulfuric acid, wear rubber gloves and protective glasses. Maintain a safe distance from the source of fire and observe fire safety rules.
Warning! Substances of this experiment are toxic and highly dangerous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only under professional supervision.