Dissolve Glass With Drain Cleaner





Introduction: Dissolve Glass With Drain Cleaner

About: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already online and we thought "we could do better".....

Using sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner) we dissolve glass.

Glass is nearly invulnerable to chemicals and thus why it's the preferred material for chemical containers and reaction vessels. But when exposed to molten sodium hydroxide even glass will dissolve.

To perform the reaction a steel container is used as it's resistant to the sodium hydroxide.

For more information as well as the reaction equation check out the webpage at: http://sites.google.com/site/nurdrage/chemistry-experiments/dissolve-glass-with-drain-cleaner



    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest

    15 Discussions

    the video does not play. anyone else having the same problem?

    I'd be interested to have a go at bonding glass with 'hydroxide - have you ever done this (deliberately)? L

    5 replies

    i suppose it's possible. but the bond would be extremely weak. maybe fill the gap with silicic acid and then heat it to turn it into silicon dioxide.

    Yes I was thinking something like that could happen in situ - it certainly works on glass stoppers in glass bottles.


    Not a strong bond though. A quick, practised hit with a spatula soon dislodges the stopper from the bottle. Not so good with the old burettes : they crack easily and it is only the very experienced that can dislodge a valve from a burette with a spatula whack! BTW. should you want to store NaOH in a bottle with a ground glass stopper, just put a piece of Scotch Tape on the stopper. It sure helps.

    I've known well-stuck stoppers, don't think that physical-blows weren't tried...


    That's a very interesting idea. I have some glass art projects in the pipe which would benefit from a bonding approach that's not heat-fusing or epoxy based. I may have to look into the Silicic Acid thing. Thanks! 

    NurdRage, This Instructable seems very interesting.
    All your Instructables they are educational and useful.

    I can't see the video at office, I must wait the night to see it at home. But I am not patient... and I have some questions:
    1) When the glass is fused with sodium hydroxide, is it degraded in any way? Or can I expect a glass treated in this way maintain their properties in much?
    2) Is there a part of sodium hydroxide incorporated into the glass? That makes it dangerous or corrosive?

    4 replies

    1) the glass will completely dissolve into the liquid sodium hydroxide when it reacts. It's very slow, but it happens. it took about 20 minutes to create the damage seen in the picture. 2) yes, the unreacted glass still has a thick layer of sodium silicate and hydroxide that is highly corrosive and reactive. This experiment should only be performed by a chemist.

    Thanks, NurdRage. I guess washing thoroughly with water and vinegar the glass once it has cooled, it should be possible to remove all traces of caustic soda and sodium silicate. Don't be corporate, not only the chemists know to be careful. I have thought about doing this at home, because I retire soon and I want to do many things with my new free time.

    hehe, Yeah i say the warnings for liability reasons. If someone out there with less intellect than us tries this stuff and loses their eye then they can't sue me because i said upfront: "don't do this" :)