The Mystery of the Burning Water: An Update

Tom Kuntzleman loves to share chemical mysteries and that inspired me to create a list of mysteries that are appropriate for the main topics covered in IB Chemistry. In this blog post I'd like to share some detail about how I modified the mystery of the burning water.

Nail Bottle Demonstration in Slow Motion

The nail bottle demonstration is one that many of us have conducted in our classes. To perform this demonstration, 2 – 3 mL of ethanol is placed into a plastic bottle that has two nails punctured into opposite sides of the bottle. After stoppering the bottle, a Tesla coil is touched to one of the nails. A spark jumps from one nail to the other, which initiates the combustion of vaporized ethanol inside the bottle. We recently filmed this reaction with our high speed video camera.