Friday, February 18, 2011

Rainbow Fire

Fire isn’t just orangey yellow; you can make it turn green, blue, red, pink and purple.  This can be done easily by burning various chemicals in a colourless flame. Spirit burners can be easily bought from hardware stores and they work like candles but use spirits instead of wax.

Using a spirit burner and a long piece of wire you can make this barely visible flame into a brilliant light show.

Using these chemicals you may have around the home, dip a damp end of the wire into it and put it in the flame.

Table salt (orange flame * )
Sodium free table salt (purple flame)
Copper based fungicides (green flame)
Cobalt-based battery chemicals (cyan flame)
Chalk Powder (Red flame * )

* These are quite hard to burn so may not work for a small spirit burner flame.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coin Trick

There's a semi famous trick of turning copper coins into silver and gold coins.  Notice the word 'trick'? It's not actually real silver and gold but it gives a nice decorative effect.

For this trick you will need zinc sulphate which can be bought cheaply online.  Or you can make it by dissolving zinc metal into sulphuric acid.

Silver Coin

Drop in some zinc metal and a clean copper coin into a strong solution of zinc sulphate and bring it to boil for about 15 minutes.  The zinc and copper must be touching.  The coin will be coated in a layer of zinc metal which looks like silver.

Gold Coin

To turn a coin gold you must first coat it in a layer of zinc, as shown above.  Then you must heat it to about 300 degrees Celsius until the zinc and copper form a coating of brass.  Drop in into some water to cool it down and it will have the appearance of gold.

Protip: This works on anything copper, so you can also make gold and silver bling.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Make Iodine

In my last post I explained how to make exploding paste from ammonia and iodine. In some areas iodine cannot be purchased since it's used by the meth heads to make their stuff.

However you can make iodine yourself using an alkali metal iodide and concentrated sulphuric acid.

I normally use potassium iodide because it's cheap and easy to get hold of, (eBay) but sodium iodide will also work.

Add a few table spoons of your iodide into a heat resistant tub and place it into an ice bath. This reaction will get very hot. Using a dropper slowly add concentrated sulphuric acid to your iodide, it will turn into a sticky black paste at first, but keep adding acid until it turns into a black liquid.

Pour your black messy liquid into a large container of cold water and give it a good stir. Give it a few minutes for the iodine to precipitate at the bottom.

Slowly pour off the dark liquid and at the bottom you'll find a thick residue of wet iodine. Scoop this out and let it dry.

Iodine vaporises at a low temperature so leave it to dry in a cool place and not a warm place or you'll have wasted your time.

There you go; iodine has more uses than exploding paste and I'll explain them at some point in the near future.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make Exploding Paste

Here in Britain there’s a TV show called Brainiac, and there’s a prank where a low explosive paste is placed on objects and a hidden camera watches an unsuspecting victim touch it.  Lulz were had.

Today I’m going to explain how to make it.  If you've watched the show then you'll already know one of the ingredients is iodine (which can be bought from a pharmacy).  The ‘secret ingredient’ is household ammonia. 

To make your paste, crush iodine into a fine powder, and add about 6 times volume of ammonia.  Stir for a while, you’ll notice small bubbles of hydrogen gas forming.  When the bubbles stop, the reaction is complete.  Allow the mixture to settle for 10 minutes, pour off the water and unreacted ammonia solution, your paste is ready.

You can store it for later use by keeping it in an airtight tub with a few drops of water.  Storing it for prolonged periods of time will slowly degrade it.

To use, paste it onto a surface and allow to dry.  Touching it will cause it to explode. 

Have fun! (And don't use too much at once, or it could seriously hurt whoever touches it (Which would probably be you))

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Make Fire from Sulphuric Acid and Potassium Chlorate

Disaster! You find yourself lost in the wilderness, night is approaching and you will freeze to death if you don't start a fire quick! You are not carrying matches, flint or lighters.  Luckily you happen to have sugar, potassium chlorate and concentrated sulphuric acid on your person.  Phew.

Prepare yourself a bundle of twigs and hay and in the middle, add a pile of 50/50 mixed sugar and potassium chlorate.  Slowly add drops of sulphuric acid until it bursts into flames.  Safe at last!

Remember kids, always carry concentrated sulphuric acid, sugar and potassium chlorate with you at all times.  

Here's how it works: 

Sulphuric acid reacts with the potassium chlorate to form potassium sulphate, hydrochloric acid and a lot of heat...
  • 2KClO3 + H2SO4 →  HClO3 + K2SO4
The heat decomposes the potassium chlorate into oxygen...
  • 2KClO3 => 2KCl + 3O2
The large oxygen supply plus the high temperatures causes the sugar to burn violently.


Friday, September 17, 2010

So you want to die (part 1)

Note: Don't do this. Ever.  This post satire and is written to highlight how dangerous messing with chemicals can be.

So you want to die but can't afford that .45 and you've misplaced your rope for a noose.  Fear not, using simple home chemistry you will be dead in no time.

Grab yourself some high chlorine bleach and Ammonia solution and mix them together in a tub.  

How this will kill you will depend on what proportions were used in the mixing

Death by Chloramine

The bleach decomposes to form hydrochloric acid, which reacts with ammonia to form toxic chloramine fumes:
First the hydrochloric acid is formed:
NaOCl → NaOH + HOCl
HOCl → HCl + O
And then the ammonia and chlorine gas react to form chloramine, which is released as a vapor:
NaOCl + 2HCl → Cl2 + NaCl + H2O
2NH3 + Cl2 2NH2Cl
Death by hydrazine 
If you accidentally added too much ammonia, toxic and potentially explosive liquid hydrazine may be formed. While impure hydrazine tends not to explode, it's still toxic, plus it can boil and spray hot toxic liquid.

2NH3 + NaOCl → N2H4 + NaCl + H2O
You see those chemicals in red? They're red because they will kill you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Get Lithium from Lithium Batteries

Lithium is a very reactive alkali metal and is usually only found in metallic form in laboratories.  It can be pulled from lithium batteries with a little bit of force and a pair of pliers.

It’s a good idea to have an air-tight container filled with methanol to store the lithium, as it will quickly corrode in the air.

Grab a fresh lithium battery (used ones won’t work) and carefully peel back the outer casing of the battery to explode the core.  It’s easy to accidentally short out the battery, if you do you should submerge it in water to prevent fire or an explosion.

Once you have peeled off the outer casing, unravel the core and discard the plastic sheets and electrolyte.  There should be a thin strip of dirty lithium metal; you can wash it in methanol to clean it.  Store it in an air tight container to prevent it from corroding.

To test that this is lithium, cut a small piece off and drop it in water, it will react violently giving off hydrogen gas and creating Lithium Hydroxide.