If you follow us on Snapchat (heylittlesweets), you’ll know hat I am a little bit of a Chemistry geek. Last night, the three of us had a wee bit of fun in the dark making fire with Potassium Permanganate and Glycerol.
Because I’m all about safety, I do highly recommend that all kids 13 years and under sit back at a safe distance while you or another supervising adult performs this experiment. Because chemicals are used and the end result is fire, we want everyone to be safe!
Potassium permanganate is a strong oxidising chemical (causes things to lose electrons and is reduced) while glycerol is an easily oxidised substance (gives electrons to others and reduces things). When you mix these two together with a little bit of water, you get what is called an Exothermic Chemical Reaction. This means that the energy produced by the chemical reaction is either light or heat. In this case, it’s fire which is a heat source.
When you add the glycerol to the potassium permanganate, the glycerol starts to boil. After about 20-30 seconds, it starts to smoke and then burst into flames that spreads around the potassium permanganate. Once all the glycerol has been eaten up by the potassium permanganate, it will burn out and you’ll be left with ashes.
What you’ll need
– potassium permanganate (you can find this at a plant store)
– glycerol (you can find this at the pharmacy)
– water + some on hand
– plastic spoons or spoons you no longer wish to use
– an old dish or you no longer wish to do again (must be metal or ceramic)
– Rubber gloves for clean up
What to do
– Start by putting a heaped teaspoon of Potassium Permanganate on your dish and make a wee hollow in the centre. Make sure your kiddos are a fair distance back.
– Working quickly, add about 1/2 a tsp of glycerol followed by a few drops of water and stand back! Have some water on hand just incase it gets a little crazy.
– After about 20-30 seconds, a chemical reaction will begin to take place and it will start to smoke. A few seconds later, a flame will erupt and eventually it will burn out.
– Once it has burned out, chuck some water over the top to ensure there is no hot embers and leave to cool completely before deposing of in the bin. I highly recommend wearing some rubber gloves for clean up as it can temporarily discolour your skin.