Watch a DIY Chemist Recreate the Conditions of a Huge Volcano

Keep your distance.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Everyone's seen and many have tried the DIY volcano project. Maybe you were 12 and aced your science project by dumping vinegar and baking soda into a mysterious concoction to trigger a small volcano, and all your friends watched it erupt in a violent reaction that left them jealous until prom night. Or maybe you just love to see nature go wrong in safe, bite-size portions.

One of these reasons is why the YouTuber called "The Action Lab", who is always bringing us the coolest experiments, put recreating conditions of a real-world volcano on his docket. And make no mistake, this is far more dangerous than the original volcano project. He uses ammonium dichromate to do this experiment and we dare you not to hold your breath.

But before you jump into oblivion, beware that ammonium dichromate is a carcinogen (read: highly toxic), so you probably shouldn't try this experiment at home. The YouTuber placed a small batch of orange ammonium dichromate in the shape of a volcano on a large piece of paper. Then he lights it up. 

What happens next is nothing short of terrifying: The solution burns hotter and hotter, releasing both gray vapor and dust, and you get the acute sense that if this got any more real, you'd be dead. And it keeps going, turning a hellish sort of sentient orange until the ammonium dichromate has finally been consumed and your worst nightmares relent. But then you remember how deeply you love science, and ask the right question: what's burning in there, and what comes out of the solution? And, are its byproducts still dangerous and toxic?