Chemistry can be one of the most mesmerizing but also dangerous sciences. The mixing of certain chemicals can cause rather unexpected reactions that make for fun demonstrations. Here are 13 of the most amazing and mesmerizing chemical reactions out there!
[Image Sources: Screen Captures from YouTube Videos Below]
Beta Tin to Grey Tin
White tin (Beta Tin) has a different crystalline structure than Alpha tin (Grey Tin). In the video above, you can see the transformation between the two structures catalyzed by the metal’s cooling to -40˚C. This video is quite sped up at 20 frames taken per hour. In other words, the metal is going from one allotrope. A comparison would be if carbon was to change from diamond to graphite.
Radioactive Radon Decay
When radon radioactively decays into polonium and then into lead, it causes v-shaped trails of alpha particles to rocket off behind it. These alpha particles are actually helium-4 nuclei being emitted as a result of the decay.
Sodium Polyacrylate and Water
Sodium Polyacrylate is a superabsorbent polymer. To summarize the reaction, the polymer’s ions attract water by diffusion. The polymer absorbs the water within seconds resulting in almost instantaneous transformation into a gel substance. This chemical is actually what is used in diapers to absorb waste liquid. Technically, this isn’t a chemical reaction because the chemical structure doesn’t change nor is there a reaction with the water molecules. Rather, this is a demonstration of absorption on a macro scale.
Diethylzinc and Air
Diethyl Zinc is a very unstable compound. When it comes in contact with the air, it burns to form zinc oxide, CO2, and water. The reaction occurs as the Diethyl Zinc comes into contact with oxygen molecules. The chemical equation is as follows:
Zn(C2H5)2 + 5O2 → ZnO + 4CO2 + 5H2O
Cesium and Water
[Image Source: Giphy]
Cesium is one of the most reactive alkali metals. When it comes into contact with water, it reacts to form cesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. This reaction occurs so rapidly that a hydrogen bubble forms around the cesium, rises to the surface, which then exposes the cesium to the water causing further exothermic reaction thus igniting the hydrogen gas. This cycle repeats until all of the cesium is exhausted.
Calcium gluconate is typically used to treat calcium deficiencies. However, when it is heated, it causes a huge expansion in the molecular structure. This results in a gray snake-like foam caused by vaporization of water and dehydration of hydroxyl groups within the compound. In less scientific terms, when heated, calcium gluconate rapidly decomposes. The reaction is as follows:
2C12H22CaO14 + O2 → 22H2O + 21C + 2CaO + 3CO2
You can make this compound at home, but be aware that it is very dangerous. The compound is formed through the careful reaction of iodine and ammonia. After drying the intial components, NI3 forms, which is a very reactive compoind. A simple touch of a feather will set off this highly dangerous contact explosive.
When ammonium dichromate is ignited, it decomposes exothermically producing sparks, ash, steam, and nitrogen.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Potassium Iodide
When hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide are mixed in proper proportions, the hydrogen peroxide decomposes very quickly. Soap is often added to this reaction to create the foamy substance as a result. The soapy water traps the oxygen, a product of the reaction, and creates many bubbles.
Potassium Chlorate and Candy
Gummy bears are essentially just sucrose. When gummy bears are dropped into potassium chlorate, it reacts with the glucose molecule within sucrose resulting in a highly exothermic combustion reaction.
Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction
The BZ reaction is formed by the careful combination of bromine and an acid. The reaction is a prime example of non-equilibrium thermodynamics that results in the colorful chemical oscillations you see in the video above.
Nitrogen Monoxide and Carbon Disulfide
Often referred to as the “barking dog” reaction, this is a chemical reaction as a result of the ignition of carbon disulfide and nitrous oxide. The reaction produces a bright blue flash and the obvious woofing sound. The reactants in the reaction are rapidly decomposing in the combustion process.
NaK Alloy and Water
NaK alloy is a metal alloy formed through the mixing of sodium and potassium outside of air – usually under kerosene. This extremely reactive allow can reactive with air but an even more violent reaction occurs when it comes in contact with water.