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Black Snake Experiment

Make a Fiery Black Snake Appear From Sand in the Cool Experient!


Topics: Chemical reactions, Exothermic reactions.

Difficulty: Medium Difficulty. This experiment takes a bit of time for the reaction to occur and involves fire.

Note: Parent supervision is required for this experiment and is recommended for all experiments.

Materials:

  • Baking Soda

  • Powdered Sugar

  • Sand

  • Lighter Fluid

  • 2 Firesafe Pans/Containers

Procedure:

  1. In a bowl, mix 4 teaspoons of sugar and 4 teaspoons of baking soda

2. Fill the bigger pan with sand. Then keep the smaller pan on top of it and fill it up with sand also. This creates a barrier to keep the fire from becoming uncontrolled.


3. In the smaller pan, create a small mound and make an indent in the sand. Then, pour the lighter fluid on the sand. Put enough of the lighter fluid to soak it thoroughly.

3. Pour the sugar and baking soda mix in the small indent

4. Use a lighter to light the sand. Have a parent or guardian do this step. Tip: If using an oil-based lighter fluid, do not try to use water to douse the fire, use sand instead. Adding water will cause the fire to grow in size.

5. The snake will start forming after a few minutes (around 2 minutes) and the fire will burn for a long time (around 30 minutes).

Tip: This experiment takes a long time to develop, patience is needed.

Tip: If you want the fire to be bigger, do not add more fuel fire directly. This can cause the bottle of lighter fluid to explode from catching on fire. Instead, put out the flame and add more lighter fluid.

6. Enjoy watching your snake grow!

How It Works:

When the snake begins to form, 3 chemical reactions are occurring:


1. As a result of the heat, the solid Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate - NaHCO3) breaks down into solid Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate - Na2CO3), gaseous water vapor (H2O), and gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2). From the reaction, you

2. Some of the sucrose in sugar (C12H22O11) burns (the burning is represented with the oxygen - O2), to form gaseous carbon dioxide and gaseous water vapor.

3. However, due to the high temperature of the fire, some of the sucrose decomposes instead of burning. This decomposition forms solid Carbon (C) and gaseous water vapor.

The carbon that is formed in the third reaction makes up the black snake. The reason the snake grows so much is that when the gaseous water vapor is produced, it pushes the carbon that is formed upward, leading to the growth of your "black snake".

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