Vanishing Volume

When 50mL of water are added to 50mL of ethanol in a 100mL graduated cylinder, there are only ~97mL of liquid. Ethanol and water molecules are attracted to each other through hydrogen bonding. The two molecules pack closer together with each other than they do with just themselves.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Liquid nitrogen is -196˚C and quickly freezes the ingredients into ice cream. The nitrogen boils out leaving deliciously creamy ice cream. The “fog” that we see is condensed water vapor though, not nitrogen gas.

Red Cabbage Indicator

red cabbage indicator in common household solutions

Anthocyanin, which is found in red cabbage, is a natural indicator that can be easily extracted.

Rainbow in a Beaker

densities of sugar solutions layering liquids

Sugar solutions that have different concentrations have different densities; the more sugar in a solution the more dense it is. Therefore less dense solutions can be layered on top of denser ones.

Mushroom Cloud

dry ice mushroom cloud bubble

When dry ice is placed in warm water it sublimes very quickly forming a large amount of carbon dioxide gas. When a bubble is placed over this the bubble grows from the pressure.

M&M Color Wheel

M&Ms in water, candy coating dissolving

When M&M’s are placed in water, the outer shell, which is made of sugar, dissolves. The sugar moves from a place of high concentration (the M&M) to a place of low concentration (the water away from the M&M). When the sugar shell dissolves and moves outward, it takes the layer of food dye with it. When more than one M&M is placed into a petri dish the colors do not mix because the concentration of sugar at the interface is approximately the same. Also, around the bottom of the M&M water appears cloudy because the sugar that is dissolved is more dense than the water, so it sinks.

Lemon Fizz

lemon reaction with baking soda

When basic baking soda (NaHCO3) is combined with acidic lemon juice (mainly citric acid, H3C6H5O7) an acid base reaction occurs. The reaction releases CO2 which can be captured using dish soap to form bubbles.
H3C6H5O7 (aq) + 3 NaHCO3 (s) → 3 CO2 (g) + 3 H2O (l) + Na3C6H5O7 (aq)

Gold and Silver Pennies

plating pennies with zinc silver pennies gold pennies

This demo uses sodium hydroxide to plate Zn on the surface of a copper penny, making it appear silver in color. Zinc is oxidized in sodium hydroxide. The remaining electroplating process is not fully understood. The silvery penny can be heated to melt the zinc and copper together, creating a gold colored alloy.

Dry Ice in Universal Indicator

dry ice universal indicator acid base reaction

Universal indicator goes from red (pH 4) to violet (pH10) as the pH of a substance changes. Adding NaOH to water starts the solution off at pH 8-9 (blue). When dry ice is added to water it forms carbonic acid, and lowers the pH, which is the reason for the color changes. The “fog” that we see is condensed water vapor though, not carbon dioxide gas.

Disappearing Ink

This demo uses acid base chemistry and an indicator to make an ink that will appear or disappear depending on the solution added to it. Phenolphthalein, which is clear, reacts with a base, and then turns pink.

Color Tornado

food coloring tornado in water on a hot plate

In this demo, food coloring is added to a stirring beaker of water to create a tornado of color. This could be used as an example of a physical change, or to demonstrate the importance of properly mixing solutions.

Chemistry Pop Guns

This demo harnesses the reaction of baking soda and vinegar to blow a cork off a test tube.
NaHCO3 (s) + CH3COOH (aq) →CO2 (g) + H2O (l) + CH3COONa (aq)

CO2 Bubbles

dry ice soap bubbles

CO2 gas from subliming dry ice gets caught in a soapy solution creating a column of bubbles. When the bubbles are popped, the “fog” that we see is condensed water vapor, not carbon dioxide gas.