Instructables

Awesome Chemistry Experiment!! (Just 4 simple steps)

FeaturedContest Winner
I would call this experiment... Awesome.  It involves the same materials used to create a worx bomb, but instead of trapping the Hydrogen gas inside a sealed container, the gas is captured with a standard party balloon and ignited in the safest way possible.

First: Stern warning / disclaimer... Don't try this at home.  I am in NO way encouraging anyone to make a "worx bomb".  I recommend suggesting the activity to a chemistry teacher or someone who will have the proper safety tools at their disposal.  I am not responsible for any injury you may sustain during the recreation of this experiment.  You assume all risk and liability.  The chemical reaction involved generates a significant amount of heat along with an aqueous aluminum chloride solution, and can be dangerous if one does not take the proper precautions.  Now let's have some fun!

This instructable will be submitted in both the Mad Scientist contest and the Teacher's Contest. 

This experiment is perfect for the mad scientists out there because of the intense reaction.  It is also perfect for science teachers because the materials are cheap and easy to come by (always a plus on an educators' budget), and the reaction that takes place is quite simple for students to understand.

Educational objectives can be modified for different ages and ability levels.  NOT recommended for students younger than 8th grade.

Student will demonstrate ability to...

create a replacement reaction.
describe what happens during a chemical change and four possible clues that it has taken place.
apply the law of conservation of mass to chemical reactions
relate pure chemistry to applied chemistry.
describe the relationships among the temperature, pressure and volume of a gas
write a word equation.
write a balanced chemical equation.

Extension: identify areas affected by chemistry research
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
TrickRaines3 months ago

Just wondering, but wouldn't this experiment yield a greater quantity of H if you used actual HCl(aq) instead of the works cleaner? Other than that, nice project!

Biodynamic (author)  TrickRaines3 months ago
Yes! HCl would yield more H, but I'm sure you know how dangerous it can be. The main reason I use Worx toilet bowl cleaner is because I can get it at dollar general right down the street and it's cheap. I'm not sure where I could pick up a high concentration HCl somewhere other than one of my science teacher catalogues. Thanks for looking. Let me know if you try it.

Understandable to use the Worx toilet cleaner. I actually can make my own HCl, (I used this method by NurdRage. The link is below.) But I also bought some because I gave what I made to my school. Anyways... I bought mine on Amazon and it was around $20-30 and that was for 1000ml. I will for sure let you know if I do this experiment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGjd7xxTuZw

Whoa!
LesB2 years ago
Your students must love this. Not many things in school as exciting as an explosion in the classroom!
For years I've wanted to make airborne soap bubbles with hydrogen inside so that when touched with a match would rupture with a good "pop". Any idea of how to accomplish that with these materials?
My dad was a high school chem teacher; he enjoyed the hydrogen soap bubbles trick as follows:

He would use electrolysis into a balloon to generate and capture an oxygen/hydrogen mix. then release the gas under soapy water to make the bubbles. When the kids trooped into the classroom, he'd be "washing" his hands in the sink, then, with a handful of bubbles, he'd "dry" them over a waiting Bunsen burner. Note, have your mouth open in a yawn before you ignite the bubbles!

Lance ==)-------------------
Okay. Then with the baloon full of explosive gas I could instead of pumping it under water I could blow it into a soap bubble ring and blow bubbles that way. And then set them off with a butane lighter.
Your dad was a cool teacher; kids musta loved him.
You could do that. The larger bubbles will probably tend to rise, as the gas content will weigh about one-third of the air around them; it will depend on the weight of the surrounding membrane

Measuring, plotting, and explaining the difference in bouyancies of large vs. small bubbles could make for an fascinating class in itself. Such an effort could be complicated by membrane weight changes due to dripping & evaporation as well as gas weight changes due to hydrogen migration through the membrane.

Yeah, the kids loved him, and he loved the kids. His teams were the only ones the school district ever sent to national academic competitions; there was a budgetary line item just for them, since they took state almost every year. Unlike larger schools, his dinky rural school sent two teams to state, usually taking second or third in addition to first places. Unfortunately, he had to take early retirement for medical reasons and died early. The state student engineering society named an award after him.

He did cool stuff like firing a rifle into a ballistic pendulum to measure the speed of the the bullet (in the classroom!). I inherited a lot of his cool toys, like a 7' demonstration slide rule and a Super Ball look-alike that doesn't bounce (he loved switching it in as he passed a Super Ball around when they were doing a unit on elasticity deformation; frustrated the daylights out of the jocks). When the state required him to clean "dangerous" chemicals out of his storage room, a lot of them found their way home. He shot up an old bottle of picric acid on my uncle's farm; no BOOM!, unfortunately.

Lance ==)------------------
Biodynamic (author)  Lance Reichert2 years ago
That would be a great instructable if you can get your hands on all the materials. I'm sure everyone else would love to see it too. Thanks for letting me know. His students must have sh@" themselves.
Biodynamic (author)  LesB2 years ago
Hydrogen bubbles would be even cooler. They might take off on you though :). You might want to think about something with liquid detergent over the mouth of the flask like they can do to make CO2 bubbles with dry ice.
rajan007RJ2 years ago
Its really a very nice experiment for a chem geek lyke moi...
Stoveboy2 years ago
'Just come across this and it's pretty awesome. When we bored at work we blow ballons up with either oxy acetelyne (expensive but loud) or oxy-lpg, (cheaper and still great fun). For some reason MAPP gas doesn't explode, the balloon pops and a moment later there is a fireball, but no "explosion" as such.
cjbikenut2 years ago
Very nicely done instructable. Would this work with regular chlorine bleach replacing the toilet bowl cleaner?
Biodynamic (author)  cjbikenut2 years ago
It won't work with bleach because there is no hydrochloric acid in the bleach. The aluminum needs to replace the hydrogen to get the reaction. You could always try it and see what happens. I believe there are reactions that take place with drano or liquid plumber, but I don't like messing with that stuff! Thanks.
Drano is sodium hydroxide and it reacts with aluminum virtually the same way as HCl does. and produces hydrogen. I used to make hydrogen balloons when I was in high-school many years ago. I used a glass 2 quart coke bottle to do the reaction in. and the outside of the glass would get too hot to touch. but it would blow up balloons with no trouble.
Biodynamic (author)  apburner2 years ago
Very cool. I would use drano, but I think it's more expensive than the worx. I can get it at dollar general for cheap. Thanks for letting me know about the drano. It would be a good way to have my students balance a different type of chemical equation.
Ya no problem. It is one of the few metals that react exothermically with both an acid and a base. Your students should find it most enlightening. And be forewarned it is a very exothermic reaction. the water will boil after a while so be careful. boiling lye is nothing to take lightly .
1487342 years ago
Good cheap way of collecting hydrogen in a lab, I use a volumetric flask instead of a conical flask, it has a much longer and narrower neck, which means the hot solution doesn't get into the balloon and it's easier to put the balloon onto the flask.
Fantastic experiment:- Draino works well too.... Electrolysis is the best way to avoid chems..well except water and small amount of electrolyte.....I used a cycling drinks bottle adapted to take stainless washer electrodes and placing a balloon on the pull up cap -12 volt batt charger and wait for the balloon to increase to soft ball size and use same ignition set up-------------em..... you may need ear defenders, goggles and some clean underware though.........
I know almost nothing about Chemistry, but I know that it is a very fun thing and is a lot like, well, making something.(My school doesn't teach Chemistry yet, so I don't know much about it.)
Excellent project! It takes me back to when I was a freshman in college, and I would make balloons like that in my dorm room bathroom. When ignited they would make a nice thud that must have left a few others in my wing scratching their heads.

When I made mine, I used a beer bottle to hold the acid, and I used the pop tops from pop cans for aluminum. I would also dilute my acid a bit to slow the reaction, otherwise I tended to get a bubbling noxious mess that went out of control. I also found that I could slow the reaction by having the lower part of the bottle in a tub of water to cool it. It took longer,(~20 minutes to fill a balloon), but I found that I go less water vapor in the balloon and they would actually be light enough to float.

Another good source of HCL is just the straigh muriatic acid they sell in the paint departemnt. Only about $5 per gallon.

Again, good work. I like that you also point out the chemistry principles at play, so the students actually learn something too!
Biodynamic (author)  LargeMouthBass2 years ago
Thanks for the comment and the advice!
Biodynamic (author)  Biodynamic2 years ago
Adding a water bath will be a great way for my students to compare and contrast the reactions. I didn't think I could find an acid cheaper than the solution in the worxs... Looks like I'm gonna have to find a pool supply store. Thanks again!
I've found that the muriatic acid is available in pretty much any hardware store. I don't think you would need to go to a pool supply store. I don't know all its uses, but I remember my parents using it to keep the toilet clean, perhaps similar to what the works is intended for.
Dr.Bill2 years ago
I had a 6th grade teacher that did this kind of thing with electrolysis of water.
We filled the balloon with Hydrogen gas and put a match to the balloon.
We called it the Hydrogen Bomb Experiment.

Walter Bates will be remembered for that experiment for as long as we live.
Quite a legacy.
ilpug2 years ago
Okay, depending on what state you are in, this is a felony and could get you jail time or terrorism charges. It happend to my friend here in California.

Just sayin.

That said, awesome experiment!
Aron3132 years ago
Ohh! I never knew that tin foil and the works made hydrogen!
Biodynamic (author)  Aron3132 years ago
Just make sure you use aluminum.
artworker2 years ago
Super cool experiment. Why didn't the teachers teach in this way when we were in school?
Your kids must love this demonstration. I love the title of the final video, too. Awesome.