I found a version of this demonstration online a couple of years ago. I admit, when I first tried it with my class it was mostly for a crowd pleaser to demonstrate the activity series of metals, but I then became very intrigued by the processes occurring. The original source only referenced the “single replacement reaction” between Mg(s) and AgNO3(aq). Therefore, when I saw a grayish product (silver) I was not surprised. However, I was surprised by the white flash and the production of a white product, which were reminiscent of the classic combustion of magnesium demonstration. This led to some research and my conclusions that follow. Read through to the end and you will find a video of the demo.
The solution to Chemical Mystery #9: Liquid Nitrogen vs. Dry Ice is presented. Why does liquid nitrogen launch the bucket so much higher than dry ice and water?
A 2L soda pop bottle is filled about one-third full with either liquid nitrogen or solid carbon dioxide (dry ice) and water. The bottle is sealed and a plastic bucket is placed on top. Do you think the liquid nitrogen or dry ice and water will make the bucket go higher? Can you explain the results using chemistry?
Have you ever wondered where the cloud comes from when dry ice is placed in water? If you think the answer is “atmospheric water vapor”, be sure to read this post because experimental evidence suggests that this explanation is wrong.
Build a propane gun for your students! Construction is inexpensive, easy, and the effects are spectacular.
I have a first day routine that I am very proud of. I have used it for 25 years and I think I finally have it down pat. I have spoken to students from 20 years ago at reunions and they tell me that they still remember the first day of chemistry so I think it is pretty good.
The video displays a neat trick you can do for your students. What do you suppose is the secret behind this trick? Hint: It has to do with chemistry!
One day during class I presented the disappearing rainbow demonstration and explained the chemistry behind it. After doing so, I had a student ask me if a particular bartending trick called “rainbow shots” was done in a manner similar to the way the disappearing rainbow demonstration is performed.
Did you know that Pyrex glassware used in chemistry labs is different than Pyrex glassware used in kitchens? Pyrex glass used in chemistry experiments is made of borosilicate glass, whereas the Pyrex used when baking is made of soda lime glass.
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.