Instructables
video Make a Test Tube Thunderstorm!!!
In this cool science experiment we make a thunderstorm in a test tube using alcohol, sulfuric acid and potassium permanganate.

WARNING:This experiment is extremely dangerous as it involves corrosive acids and flammable liquids with a small, but not negligible, chance of a damaging explosion. Face shields, goggles, fire extinguishers and fire safety protocols must be present. This should only be attempted by an experienced chemist.

Just get a test tube of 95% alcohol and carefully pipette a layer in a bottom of sulfuric acid. Then drop in some potassium permanganate crystals. It takes a minute or two to start up.

The reaction of the permanganate and the sulfuric acid produce manganese heptoxide that explodes on contact with organic matter like the alcohol. This also works with acetone.

More cool stuff at our website at http://www.nurdrage.com
abell212 years ago
This is a fun demo to do - the problem I had was when I went to dispose of it - a 250ml measuring cylinder half full. I used methanol, as it was cheaper. As long as the alcohol on top was deeper than the explosions, it was good, but when I tipped it, the alcohol layer thinned, ignited, and blew a fireball out. After returning to the vertical, I tried to kill it with water - that caused the acid to boil, and more little explosions. in the end i dumped it into a large stainless sink and waited for the burning to stop :)
You live and learn. Usually.
Now, I work backwards - think disposal first, and have everything thought out and planned before I grab chemicals.
cool cool.. thanks for sharing!
trilo30003 years ago
also would changing the variables like how much potassium permanganate is used change the out come? im trying to find a way to create a variable for different hypothesis for a science fair experiment,
trilo30003 years ago
where can you purchase the crystals? or would this be suitable http://secure.sciencecompany.com/Potassium-Permanganate-125g-P6403.aspx
Should this be called 'Firecrackers in a test tube'?
jyeomans5 years ago
I'm glad there are science herds like you to conduct cool experiments like this for the rest of us! I'll heed your warning and just watch the video.
how to get sulfrc acid?
i wont... :D
hg3415 years ago
are you layering it alcohol on bottom or sulfuric acid bottom
Kiteman hg3415 years ago
Sulphuric acid at the bottom - the thin pipette reaches to the bottom of the tube before the acid is injected.
hg341 Kiteman5 years ago
now i just need to watch there vids on makeing Potassium Permanganate
Kiteman5 years ago
Nice.
Blackice5045 years ago
That was a really intresting effect. Thanks for another great video.