Sugar snake

Grow a black snake out of sugar!

Difficulty:
Danger:
Duration:
30 minutes
Sugar snake

Safety

  • Put on protective gloves and eyewear.
  • Conduct the experiment on the plastic tray and in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep a bowl of water nearby when working with fire.
General safety rules
  • Do not allow chemicals to come into contact with the eyes or mouth.
  • Keep young children, animals and those not wearing eye protection away from the experimental area.
  • Store this experimental set out of reach of children under 12 years of age.
  • Clean all equipment after use.
  • Make sure that all containers are fully closed and properly stored after use.
  • Ensure that all empty containers are disposed of properly.
  • Do not use any equipment which has not been supplied with the set or recommended in the instructions for use.
  • Do not replace foodstuffs in original container. Dispose of immediately.
General first aid information
  • In case of eye contact: Wash out eye with plenty of water, holding eye open if necessary. Seek immediate medical advice.
  • If swallowed: Wash out mouth with water, drink some fresh water. Do not induce vomiting. Seek immediate medical advice.
  • In case of inhalation: Remove person to fresh air.
  • In case of skin contact and burns: Wash affected area with plenty of water for at least 10 minutes.
  • In case of doubt, seek medical advice without delay. Take the chemical and its container with you.
  • In case of injury always seek medical advice.
Advice for supervising adults
  • The incorrect use of chemicals can cause injury and damage to health. Only carry out those experiments which are listed in the instructions.
  • This experimental set is for use only by children over 12 years.
  • Because children’s abilities vary so much, even within age groups, supervising adults should exercise discretion as to which experiments are suitable and safe for them. The instructions should enable supervisors to assess any experiment to establish its suitability for a particular child.
  • The supervising adult should discuss the warnings and safety information with the child or children before commencing the experiments. Particular attention should be paid to the safe handling of acids, alkalis and flammable liquids.
  • The area surrounding the experiment should be kept clear of any obstructions and away from the storage of food. It should be well lit and ventilated and close to a water supply. A solid table with a heat resistant top should be provided
  • Substances in non-reclosable packaging should be used up (completely) during the course of one experiment, i.e. after opening the package.

FAQ and troubleshooting

The solid fuel isn’t igniting. What should I do?

This can happen if you cover the tablet of solid fuel with too much sugar and NaHCO3. Use a wooden stick to carefully brush any excess away from the sides of the tablet, then try to light the solid fuel.

The snake spilled out of the stove. What should I do?

Apparently, your snake was very impressive! Be sure to wait till everything cools down and the thermosticker turns black. Then you can clean everything up and dispose of the snake with household waste.

What should I do with the snake after the experiment?

The “reptilian” compounds are perfectly safe, so you can dispose of them with ordinary household waste.

Step-by-step instructions

Prepare a mixture of NaHCO3 (baking soda) and sugar.

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Prepare the stove.

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Pour a small volume of the sugar-soda mixture onto the solid fuel tablet.

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Light the solid fuel and watch!

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Disposal

Dispose of solid waste together with household garbage.

Scientific description

When we set the solid fuel on fire, a whole range of chemical transformations takes place – culminating in a small heap of white powders turning into a huge black snake!

In fact, each substance undergoes its own transformations: the solid fuel burns, yielding almost exclusively gaseous products and a lot of heat. This heat makes the baking soda decompose to release carbon dioxide gas, and makes the sugar turn into black carbon. The carbon dioxide whips the carbon into a froth, giving it more and more volume and forming the spectacular snake that you see.